Since the turn of the millennium, China has upheld a ban of the sale and distribution of video game consoles due to their alleged impact on young children. However, after the possibility was pitched to various ministries back in January, the sovereign state is reportedly drafting up a new policy that would supersede the thirteen year ban and effectively open up the market for worldwide manufacturers to operate in Shanghai’s free-trade zone.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the strategy specifies that foreign companies such as Sony and Microsoft may be able to sell data processing and storage packages, as well as software and other Internet services. Effectively, this will position the Shanghai trade zone as the hub for international companies to sell their products to the Chinese mainland; as the country pushes to ease overarching restrictions to simultaneously encourage capital goods from overseas and boost the stagnating economy.
Though this is a significant step towards circumventing the stringent red tape, it was confirmed by the South China Morning Post that console manufacturers will still need to submit their device to the Ministry of Culture for approval. In essence, this is because “the government wants to make sure the content of your games is not too violent or politically sensitive for young people.”
The fact that consoles have been taboo since the year 2000 has resulted in PC and handheld markets swelling in popularity in the Asian state. Last year, the country’s video game revenue rose by approximately 35% and given the lenient nature of this new policy, legalising the console market will also help to nullify China’s thriving black market for video games.
It’s important to note that the Chinese government hasn’t outlined any concrete timeline for the procedure, as policymakers continue to adapt the rules to best suit the aforementioned free-trade zone. Nonetheless, the significance of video game companies gaining access to the largest market in the world is palpable – even if it’s still a few years down the line.
Source: The Independent