In 2000 the Chinese government made the sale and import of all videogame consoles illegal, claiming that the devices would actively inhibit the mental and physical development of the nation's younger generations.
Speaking to the Chinese newspaper, an official government source has reportedly revealed that the Chinese government is now reviewing the original ban.
“We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market,” the unnamed source from China’s Ministry of Culture told the China Daily. “However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it.”
Since the Chinese safety standards body awarded the Sony PlayStation 3 console a quality certification back in November, there have already been positive rumblings in the tech community about the Chinese government’s console discussions.
Adding to the speculations, the Microsoft Xbox Kinect system was introduced in China in October 2012, albeit for medical and educational purposes.
The news of the potential Chinese ban lifting has caused an 8 per cent rise in Sony shares on the Japanese Nikkei index, with Nintendo shares also increasing by 3.5 per cent.
Speaking to Reuters, Yoshiko Uchiyama, spokeswoman for Sony Computer Entertainment said: “Our stance towards business in China has not changed. Of course, we acknowledge China as a promising market for our business, and we are always considering and preparing business opportunities and possibilities [for the country].”
However, when Reuters approached an official at the Chinese ministry’s cultural market department, which is responsible for the turn of the century’s game console ban, he denied any discussions existed. “The ministry is not considering lifting the ban,” the official, known only as ‘Bai’ said.
If the Chinese government were to lift the thirteen-year console ban in the country, the videogames market could be boosted by over a billion new potential gamers, breathing a new lease of life into the existing Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles ahead of their next generation counterparts, the Microsoft Xbox 720 and Sony PlayStation 4.
Do you think the younger generation’s access to consoles restricts their mental development? Could the addition of a Chinese market revitalise the sales of existing consoles? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.