A 14-year-old ban on the sale of foreign game consoles in China has been suspended... for now.
Chinese government officials have lifted a 14-year-old ban on the sale and production of foreign videogame consoles, opening up the Chinese market to Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft.
Companies will be able to make consoles in Shangai's free trade zone and sell them in China pending government approval, the State Council, the highest executive body in the Chinese government, said in a statement. The ban was first implemented in 2000 as government ministries feared videogames had a negative impact on the youth. As a result, PC and smartphone gaming has grown in popularity in the country. One year ago, Chinese authorities indicated they were interested in ending the ban, but all seven ministries had to agree on the ban's suspension before it took effect. Of course, consoles have still been available in China, although unofficially.
Before consoles go on sale in the country, the Ministry of Culture reserves the right to review every product before sale. Few details are available, but the Chinese government will be able to be restrictive toward consoles if it deems it necessary. China is opening more to the market even if government officials have concerns about games' content.
However, the lifted ban may not be permanent. The suspension of the ban is said to be "temporary." The State Council in China has not clarified what this means, but if the government believes videogames are "culturally aggressive," games are likely to be censored and the sale and production of foreign consoles will come to a halt again. The Chinese state media accused Battlefield 4 of just this for "demonizing the image of China." For now, this is a great time for Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft to promote their systems in China.