Temporary lifting of ban selling foreign video game consoles in China paves way for tech companies to enter market

By Nicel Jane Avellana

Jan 07, 2014 05:57 AM EST

The State Council of China has temporarily lifted the ban it had imposed on the selling of foreign video game consoles in the country which possibly opens the doors for technology companies like Sony Corp, Nintendo Co Ltd and Microsoft Corp to penetrate the close to $14 billion market, Reuters reported. Citing a statement posted by the agency on its website, the report said the suspension of the ban which had been in place for 14 years will allow "foreign-invested enterprises" to manufacture games consoles in the free trade zone in Shanghai and sell them in China after it has been inspected by the country's cultural departments.

In 2000, China banned gaming consoles because of the detrimental effect it had on the mental health of its youth. However, they have been available illegally. Online PC gaming is more popular in China with patrons crowding Internet cafes, the report said.

Reuters reported that the State Council did not specify the length of the suspension nor did it give detailed requirements that foreign-invested enterprises will follow.

Nintendo told Reuters in an interview that ruling changed littlefrom the time the Chinese government said last year that it intended to remove the ban. Nintendo's Japan-based public relations manager Yasuhiro Minagawa said, "This just means one step of the process has been taken."

Meanwhile, Sony said it September that it was greatly interested in entering the Chinese market. Data from the annual China games industry conference showed that the video game market in China had risen 38% to CNY 83.17 billion or $13.74 billion last year.

In an interview with Bloomberg News, Tokyo-based Spokesman for Sony's game unit, Satoshi Nakajima, said, "China mainland is an attractive market. We will seek to expand when there is an opportunity." The report also said that Microsoft and a Shanghai Media Group subsidiary had said in September that they had created a gaming venture to capitalize on the new rules.

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