The Chinese government is reviewing its nationwide ban on the sale of game consoles, China Daily reports.
According to an anonymous source inside the Chinese ministry of culture, the government has opened discussions between the seven ministries that agreed on the ban in 2000.
“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 source said, though any change in policy would have to be agreed by all seven ministries.
The ban on the import, manufacture and sale of consoles was introduced 13 years ago, largely due to fears over the impact they would have on the physical and mental development of younger generations. The gaming culture in China is now defined by free-to-play online gaming, which will be a considerable challenge for console companies should the ban be lifted.
Speaking to Reuters, Sony Computer Entertainment spokeswoman Yoshiko Uchiyaman would not comment directly on the situation, but she reiterated Sony’s interest in the market. “China [is] a promising market for our business, and we are always considering and preparing business opportunities and possibilities,” she said.
Earlier this month, a report released by the market research company Techweb indicated that the Chinese games industry grew by 35 per cent in 2012. Total revenue for the year hit $9.7 billion – 90 per cent of which was generated online – and that is expected to more than double by the end of 2017.”
I have received this link from Mr. Festinger and it’s an interesting topic. I remember I was able to buy gameboy, “red and white” console, and PS1 when I was young. But somehow online game became overwhelming and I did not notice that there was a ban of console importation until the release of Wii and Xbox. Even if there is a ban, those consoles are available in Hong Kong and Japan. Some of my friends bought Wii consoles from HK when they travelled there and brought those consoles back in Mainland without any problem. There is also a second-hand market for those consoles in China.
As to the reason of the ban, I think it’s more related to the development of Mainland’s video game industry than censorship. First of all, I am able to buy those consoles in other countries and bring it back to Mainland for personal use. Moreover, during these years, online game has big impact on the Chinese video game market and if censorship is the consideration of the ban, why I am able to play online games, some of which contain violent elements (although no scaring, disgusting, bloody screen). In addition, there are other issue related to the protection of young generations, e.g., how many hours they should be allowed to play online games. Considering that the article indicates that the video game industry in China boomed in the past few years, I think the ban actually helped the development of the video game industry. Now, I think it’s time to remove the ban and obtain some tariff and taxes.
Another reason for the ban I can think about is the IP issue. 13 years ago, China did not have comprehensive IP law and there was worry that if those consoles got into Chinese market, IP issues would sevely damage China’s international reputation. Now, IP law in China is much better and I think it’s time to try the importation.
Thanks for posting this Jia. What I find particularly interesting is that left to my own devices, would have guessed the Chines governments motivation was censorship….but looks like it was commerce.
Here is a perspective on the lift being banned that does suggest some censorship motivations, though that (like my initial opinion) seems as much opinion & assumption as not:
Report Suggests China May Lift Console Gaming Ban | Techdirt
I think, originally, the purpose of the ban was censorship. However, it comes out that it boosted the online gaming industry, economically. Now, China also has its own video game products. This following may be an interesting follow-up:
Why China’s military has turned to gaming: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-21999036
Playing the game: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2013-04/22/content_16429946.htm
China Might Lift Ban on Video Game Consoles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnO0hd_si4w