China has had a ban on video game consoles for 15 years. The government claimed that it could cause "potential harm to the physical and mental development of the young" and have enforced this ban since 2000. This week, the console drought ended as China lifted the ban of video game console sales in the country.
China will effectively relax its guidelines and will allow video game makers to now manufacture and sell their gaming devices anywhere in the country. Before this lift, you were still able to buy video game consoles in China, but only in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan; the ban only applied to mainland China. In 2014, the Chinese government made a slight amendment to the ban, and allowed a "free trade zone" to exist in Shanghai so that the big three could form relationships with Chinese manufacturing plants. That move led to Microsoft and Sony working with Chinese partners to make their consoles available for sale in the country.
The decision this week to lift all restrictions certainly opens up a lot more opportunity for not only Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, but for other console manufacturers to make an impact in a space that's now open for anyone to jump in. Any company, domestic or foreign, will be able to both sell and build their devices in the country of over 1 billion people.
One thing that will not change, though, is the approval process for video games. Drug use, violence, obscenity and "anything that can harm public ethics or China's culture" are still banned in the country. That means games like Halo and GTAV are still not allowed to be sold. Publishers do have the option to sell a censored or altered game, but almost all have chosen to simply not sell the title.
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