The Chinese government has temporarily lifted the ban on foreign video games consoles that it enforced in 2000.
With the ban lifted, companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo could suddenly have access to a brand new and lucrative market.
The foreign console ban was brought into action in 2000, due to the government’s belief gaming adversely affected younger generation’s mental health.
Despite consoles still being sold via the grey market, PC gaming in the country dominates due to the ban. PC gamers account for two-thirds of the $13 billion (£8 billion) Chinese gaming market.
The government will now allow foreign console makers to sell units in the country, but only within Shanghai’s free trade zone. All consoles must be inspected by the cultural departments prior to sale.
However, the Chinese government hasn’t actually specified when the ban will be reinforced so console manufacturers are being cautious.
“We recognise that China is a promising market. We will continuously study the possibility, but there is no concrete plan at this stage”, said Sony in a statement.
China’s video game market grew 38 per cent in 2013 to 83 billion yuan (£8 billion), and analysts can see the potential for foreign game manufacturers.
“This is an enormous market worth potentially tens of billions of dollars,” said Chris Green, an analyst with Davies Murphy Group. He added that the ban suspension was “huge news”.
“Now this is going to be a race to see who can be the first to market, who can get a factory in the Free Trade Zone up and running and get consoles off the production line fastest.”
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