China's Console Ban Is Now Totally Over

"This is great news," Sony says about the move.

180 Comments

China has now officially and fully lifted its console gaming ban, allowing systems such as PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U to spread their reach into the gamer-rich and potentially lucrative market.

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The Wall Street Journal reports that China's Ministry of Culture released a statement this week that explains companies like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo can now manufacture and sell anywhere in the region.

This is a big step up from the previous conditions, under which console makers could do business only in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone--this "stifled sales and potential growth," WSJ said.

“This is great news for us," a Sony spokesperson said. Microsoft and Nintendo were not immediately available to comment.

Though there are undoubtedly lots and lots of gamers in China, the country's censorship rules could impact the performance of games in the region.

The Xbox One launched in China in September 2014, with the PS4 following in March 2015. Nintendo has not yet announced specific plans to bring its consoles or games to the market.

China enacted its console ban in 2000, blocking the sale of systems over concerns about potential harm to the physical and mental development of children.

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Avatar image for Stogin
Stogin

Really surprised to hear they did this, but it's great news for gamers over there.

Avatar image for XxParasite
XxParasite

Could be good news for us, too. We might actually see some games from there. Maybe even ones that aren't ripoffs!

Avatar image for sirchick
sirchick

@XxParasite: we already do get games from there - it was only the other way round that was blocked.

Avatar image for XxParasite
XxParasite

@sirchick: But not in a great volume - a proliferation of platforms might change that.

Consider Japan's game output. Right, so...China is 10 times larger than Japan. On the one hand, that means that Chinese developers could safely focus on only China, but on the other, the country's potential output is just so much higher.

Avatar image for sirchick
sirchick

@XxParasite: i suspect china will still be strong on censorship for developers from inside China as well as outside. Any thing military or political or violent won't be tolerated.

This article does not include the lift of censorship for games only that the consoles are allowed in.

There is a pirate hacking group called 3DM from China who hack games from the west for PC because there are just no games available to buy as a lot of the games are not allowed.

Avatar image for XxParasite
XxParasite

@sirchick: Censorship limits what can be created; it doesn't stop creation. The Chinese make a lot of TV and movies within censorship restrictions, and despite your mention of intolerance of violence, there was a very good TV version of Three Kingdoms in 2010.

I think that, even within stifling creative conditions, they may be able to bring something distinctly theirs to the table.

Avatar image for sirchick
sirchick

@XxParasite: tv is not subject to same censorship. They don't believe TV influences the mind like games. Games don't allow any violence. Even goat simulator there for is considered violent in China currently. And pokemon.

However i think the rules differ in hong kong compared to mainland china.

Avatar image for XxParasite
XxParasite

@sirchick: Lots of rules differ in Hong Kong. Did you know that you can't get onto Facebook or Google in mainland China? I had to use Bing for like two weeks.

Anyway, Glorious Mission (a Chinese game) seems pretty violent, propaganda notwithstanding. Regarding game standards, all the specific bans that I've been able to find seem to be about portrayal of China or recognizing Tibet, rather than simply violence.

Avatar image for stormcloud29
StormCloud29

"..potential harm to the physical and mental development of children"

After which they all started playing games on PC...

Avatar image for TheArbulu
TheArbulu

I see Sony getting all amped up for this. Their main competitor has virtually no pull on the Asian market - it would be another front for a Sony/Nintendo dominance and the Xbox would dwindle. Pretty sure that'll happen soon...

But there is still a lingering question: what about the games themselves? Having the consoles is all well and good, but China still has veto power on whatever is played on them, right? Also, how does the online interactions work? I mean, I was in China recently covering a Lenovo event and I had my mind set on buying a new smartphone......then I remembered I wouldn't be able to use it outside of China due to government restrictions on the OS. Downloads were damn near impossible and virtually no online interaction took place...chat rooms, chat features on social media - the social media itself -, all blocked or gradually unusable...

I would imagine the same would be played out for PSN/Xbox live/Whatever you do to get Nintendo stuff online...would they pre-approve games? Would Netflix be available? Hulu?

I'm just talking off the top of my head here, but I think there's more to it....

Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

They lifted it several times already...

I wonder what the actual sales are in the region. Very doubtful they're substantial. Couple of mil max.

Avatar image for mr_azim
mr_azim

Just because they'll allow the console doesn't mean they'll allow the games.............. lol

Avatar image for johncas89
johncas89

"This is great news for us"

Allow me to translate: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Avatar image for bicelis
bicelis

@johncas89: It's not like they are hiding it.. It's a business, how is that surprising?

Avatar image for johncas89
johncas89

@bicelis: i wasnt implying that it was a surprise. :/

Avatar image for Hurvl
Hurvl

Now people can choose between legally buying them or illegally purchasing games/consoles, like they did previously. Having options is always nice

Avatar image for Orgodemir
Orgodemir

This is huge.

Avatar image for bunchr
bunchr

Does anyone know the reasoning behind the console ban in China?

Avatar image for wildkeny
wildkeny

@bunchr: You know, the leaders of top Chinese government are all those mid-aged conservative guys who never treated video game seriously. They think the future of a child will be ruined if he plays any video game. So that's kind of expected.

Avatar image for satanorazy
satanorazy

@wildkeny: yes but also no. They still encourage development of PC games, but most of them are actually MMO - addictive drug much more dangerous to children. I guess the main reason is they don't want American and Japan culture get in their people mind, that's why you could see a lot of fist and sword, kungfu style, but not gun and katana in China. Somehow it's about politics.

Avatar image for wildkeny
wildkeny

@satanorazy: You think too much. American culture I don't know. Japanese culture is not that different from Chinese.

Avatar image for homey_d_clown
Homey_D_Clown

@bunchr: "China enacted its console ban in 2000, blocking the sale of systems over concerns about potential harm to the physical and mental development of children."

Avatar image for mr_azim
mr_azim

@homey_d_clown: When's the last time you heard about a school shooting in China? (not instigated by the MP)

Avatar image for jonnyc0mbat
JonnyC0mbat

@mr_azim: You see school stabbings a lot though. Usually by crazy middle age men. Very odd.

Avatar image for blaisem
blaisem

@jonnyc0mbat: lol that's crazy.

I mean for all the console banning they did, their PC gaming market was probably the largest in the world for a single nation.

Avatar image for ov3r_kill_br0ny
Ov3r_Kill_Br0ny

Technically, they already had consoles. Just not premade by Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo.

Avatar image for nothingformoney
NothingForMoney

Doesn't matter. Polystation 4 master race!

Avatar image for bubba_1988
bubba_1988

The red beast has awoken and there is nothing we can do about it.

Avatar image for corinthas
Corinthas

Thats a funny way of saying $$££$$£ KACHIIING! £$£$£$$. Must be a business term.

Avatar image for Dcyple3000
Dcyple3000

Omg! the PS4 is gonna at least be at least at 30 Million consoles sold by the end of the year. With Morpheus coming out with Uncharted 4 at the beginning of next year, there is no stopping the PS4 Hype train.

Avatar image for numinex10
Numinex10

@Dcyple3000: Why do you care even if it was 100 million? You getting a cut out of it?

Avatar image for satanorazy
satanorazy

@numinex10 said:

@Dcyple3000: Why do you care even if it was 100 million? You getting a cut out of it?

Like a child "hey, everyone got PS4, i got it too!"

Avatar image for Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

@numinex10: Nice. But he could always say better sales mean more and better games, which is true.

Avatar image for piraterooster
PirateRooster

This would be the one time a "console peasants" joke would be funny

Avatar image for sargentpsgamer
sargentpsgamer

Everyone already bought one in HK anyways. Mainland China and Hong Kong have different laws.

Avatar image for Leeric420
Leeric420

They were already playing them anyways lets not kid ourselves.

Avatar image for nickes
NIckEs

"Yes, we can finally play what we make in the factory!" said one boy.

Avatar image for davidsworld3
davidsworld3

Who cares. It's Chinda.

Avatar image for xwulfd
xwulfd

incoming modded consoles

Avatar image for Wogrim
Wogrim

Are games localized for China already or is it gonna take some time?

Avatar image for Leozaur
Leozaur

@Wogrim: Not just some time, I can tell you it's going to be hell... All the UI items will have to be re-scaled and likely rearranged on screen because of wildly different translated text length. I once had a task of adapting a website for Chinese, I can tell. It's not nearly as easy as it sounds.

Avatar image for satanorazy
satanorazy

@Leozaur said:

@Wogrim: Not just some time, I can tell you it's going to be hell... All the UI items will have to be re-scaled and likely rearranged on screen because of wildly different translated text length. I once had a task of adapting a website for Chinese, I can tell. It's not nearly as easy as it sounds.

I don't think so, at least for Japan dev side. Japanese also has Kanji, much similar with Chinese text.

Avatar image for Leozaur
Leozaur

@satanorazy: What makes you think it's easy for Japanese (or from Japanese for that matter)? :) If it was planned initially it doesn't mean there was no additional effort other than text/voice translation. And I think Chinese writing is a bit more compact than Japanese, though I can't read either so I may be mistaken. And if that wasn't enough don't forget about censorship; many "serious" games will have to hide/cut/redo a lot of stuff to be allowed there.

Avatar image for crazyguy111
crazyguy111

This is great for video games overall (besides the hackers and pirates) because it means millions more can buy the console.

Avatar image for punkpunker
punkpunker

a flood of hackers and pirates incoming, i wonder how ubisoft's opinion once it settles in.

Avatar image for Arsyad00
Arsyad00

i though they were banned because they got their own CHINESE version of Xbone, Ps4, an Wii U