News Article

China Ready To Finally Lift Game Console Ban

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

There will be rules, naturally

China is perhaps on its way to becoming the most powerful economy in the world and hosted the Olympic Games as recently as 2008, and yet it can be easy to forget how different life is in the Communist state. While it's a country becoming increasingly open to some Western influences — inevitable as it bids for economic dominance — there are still aspects of life there that are very different to those taken for granted elsewhere.

An example of this is that video game consoles have been banned in China since 2000, though some gaming machines are sold by traders if consumers know where to look; some have also been playing games on legal Plug'n'play devices such as Nintendo's iQue Player as well as smartphones and tablets. According to the South China Morning Post, as reported by Kotaku, the ban on dedicated gaming consoles may be lifted in the near future, as the administration of Premier Li and President Xi Jinping aims to show that the country "wants to open up to foreign investors". Of course, the lifting of the ban wouldn't mean that Nintendo and its rivals can simply flood the country with their products.

Apparently, even when the ban is lifted companies will need to manufacture these products in the "Shanghai free trade zone", and all products to go on sale will have to go through "culture-related authorities", which is ultimately likely to be similar to a ratings system but more aggressive with censorship and demands for changes to content. As a result, the likes of Nintendo would need to set up new manufacturing facilities just for China, yet as a rapidly expanding economy of over one billion people that may be an expense worth considering.

This change hasn't happened yet, but it'll be interesting to see whether Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft take the plunge.

[via kotaku.com]

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User Comments (54)

Dr_42o

#1

Dr_42o said:

Chickity China, the Chinese Chicken!

I didn't even know there was a ban.. Not to sure if this will matter, since they are all use to cheap smartphone games.

NintyMan

#2

NintyMan said:

I knew China limited video games, but there were some classic Nintendo games that made it through thanks to that unusual iQue. While Nintendo and company could and should be able to market in this consumer-rich country, as the article pointed out, China would be pretty strict in regulating game content and might be picky with some games' presentations.

3DSAllDay

#3

3DSAllDay said:

Never even thought they had a ban on any games in the first place.
At least they will be able to play some amazing games that may or may not be incredibly censored.

theblackdragonAdmin

#4

theblackdragon said:

Kinda ironic that in all this time they haven't been able to legally play the devices built in 'legal' sweatshops in their home country. I knew they had separate versions of consoles there (e.g. the iQue versus the DS), but i figured it was just an alternative to official devices or due to the need for extensive character sets that they would have a special version for China. i didn't realize it was law.

Humphries90

#5

Humphries90 said:

I'm moving to China next month. Anyone know if they have 3DS's over there? I'm hoping to get at least some Streetpasses.

GN0LAUM

#6

GN0LAUM said:

@Dev
RE:"...in this consumer-rich country..."
While China certainly has a huge potential consumer base, the current reality of that base is still largely either agrarian or lower class workers. Many people would have to save for a very lengthy period indeed if they were to try to afford the kind of prices the big three like to charge for their gaming systems. There has become a small emergent middle class in China, but we are still years away from this country becoming a consumer-rich society.

Having said that, if the big three decide to opt for differentiated business models that will allow people to play games on the cheap, then we could start to see the beginnings of a sizeable adoption rate. Either way, it will likely be a pretty steep uphill climb as Dr_42o already pointed out: China already has access to cheap/free games on cellphones.

ultraraichu

#7

ultraraichu said:

I'm not sure what surprises me more; that China can't legally play the systems they help build or that this have been going on for 13 years and I now only aware of this.

GN0LAUM

#9

GN0LAUM said:

Not only that ultraraichu, but there have been multiple documentaries and news feed cover stories, specifically regarding Apple and Nintendo. These documented stories show that Chinese workers perform in often unsafe work environments, they are paid a pittance for their labour and as such, can often never afford to buy the very units they create.

It may also interest you to know that many factories have had to install suicide netting along the edges of the employee dormitories in an effort to reduce their average number of annual suicides.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19699156

Chris720

#10

Chris720 said:

I don't understand China at all... what a crazy bunch.

Besides, if China is already over-saturated with mobile gaming, what hope does Sony and Microsoft have? Nintendo have already (sort of) penetrated the market with the iQue and I don't see Microsoft moving anything, they hardly move anything in Japan. Sony could probably do something though.

But, oh wait, we have all those copies that they make... I don't see this working at all.

scrubbyscum999

#16

scrubbyscum999 said:

Chinese gamers have been using roms on the PC for years in stuff like GGPO. I really don't know what's with the Chinese government. I already knew this but no video games, really? I have a friend who goes to China ever summer (Shanghai and Hong Kong) and that's one place Im glad I don't live in.

unrandomsam

#17

unrandomsam said:

@Chris720 I do to a point anyway. By the time I expect to die they will be the main superpower. This move is not going to really change anything because the people in the free trade zone can go to Hong Kong and get what they want anyway. The rest couldn't afford it. (Unlike the Software industries / Film industries who realise this the games producers don't seem to. Selling loads of units for a lower cost is the same as a few at a high cost). Might mean they start counterfeiting 3DS games. (Massive amount of DS games that are counterfeit).

Einherjar

#20

Einherjar said:

Weolcome to the 21st century of home entertainement china, have a good stay.
China ... They do slave labour to get our "hiogh society standart" gadgets ready and their country forbids them to use them...
Its fine for us to use them as dirt cheap workers, but when it comes to helping these people (establish a modern society, goverment) its a no no, dont mess with other goverments -.-
Ahh Liu Bei, i hope you mustnt see what happend to your humble vision.

unrandomsam

#21

unrandomsam said:

This won't really change anything the people who could afford them could get them from Hong Kong anyway.

They are doing exactly what the US used to do. Invest in basic science (They have loads of people doing research eventually it is going to pay off.) Build really good infrastructure. Steal all the IP (The US did it from the British).

They will be the main super power. The only question is when. Could be 20 years could be 50. They know what they are doing.

unrandomsam

#22

unrandomsam said:

They are in the industrial revolution type stage but progressing through it much faster than the UK or US ever did. They have a work ethic as well. (Same as the Japanese). It is why Western games are such junk and cost so much. (Loads of idle bureaucracy).

yojo

#23

yojo said:

@Humphries90 they have the iQue 3DS with a whopping library of two games: Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land. I don't know if street pass and the street pass games are enabled, but I would assume so.

pumpkinbunch

#24

pumpkinbunch said:

I read an article stating that one of the bigger reasons consoles had been banned was because they were worried about the effect it would have on the morality of the youth and whether some of the ideas present in the games were compatible with their culture. So it sounds like it had more to do with controlling the messages found in the games, rather than banning them for any industrial or commercial reasons.

Ernest_The_Crab

#26

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@Humphries90 @WiiAllDay @x-mas_mii Shouldn't that be "I" am in control of the video game market?

I know my chinese reading is a bit rusty but I'm pretty sure the first word 我 implies "I" as singular. Unless, it's "my group" or "my country".

However, like I said, I could be off since I haven't practiced chinese reading in awhile.

@unrandomsam A lot of the people here are on the outside looking in, and I suspect the majority of people (on this site) aren't even old enough to remember the effects of the Industrial Age let alone having experienced it. Countries don't suddenly change overnight and it'd do some good if they could figure that out.

triforcepower73

#28

triforcepower73 said:

Since nintendo is more family-friendly than the other two they'll probably take over the market there because most of their stuff won't need censorship.

@Dr_42o The fact that they're used to cheap smartphone games means that they'll probably try a modern game and be like, "Whoa! I didn't know games had gotten this advanced since 2000! Never going back to smartphone games again!" If you've never had fresh strawberries and only store-bought ones, when you try a fresh one you'll be more impressed with it than if you had had fresh strawberries all your life. Same with games.

Doge

#30

Doge said:

Communism is ridiculous. (Sorry North Korea and China, but your out)

GamerFromJump

#32

GamerFromJump said:

@Ernest_The_Crab

"Wo" is I unless followed by "men". Chinese pronouns are easy. "Wo" = I, "Ni" = you, "ta" = he/she, "men" pluralizes any of the above, and "de" adds the possessive to any pronoun.

NMH-TRI

#33

NMH-TRI said:

Of the 3 big console companies, Nintendo stands to make the most money. There is so little of Ninty's content that would have to censored or cut. The majority of their games could be released as is. If they Ninty doesn't make an idiot move, they could stand to make A LOT of bank.

Peach64

#34

Peach64 said:

Do you guys claiming Nintendo's games will require the least censorship have any idea what they'll be censoring. It's not violence they'll be going after, it's games that portray China and it's culture in what they deem a bad a light.

nik1470

#36

nik1470 said:

Boom WiiU install base! Blue ocean strategy! Well back 3rd parties! In all seriuosness the Wii could still have an un-tapped market which would lead to wiiu sales microsofts £450 xbone not so much

NMH-TRI

#38

NMH-TRI said:

@Peach64 You do realize that 1st party Ninty games don't ever broach subjects that hit on topics like this don't you? They are the LEAST likely to have anything cut because they rarely explore sensitive themes. Something they get criticized fairly often for could actually turn into a boon. Thanks for the enlightenment though ;)

hydeks

#46

hydeks said:

I always found it weird that iQue was basicly the Chinese Nintendo lol It's a very silly law that Nintendo went through the loop-hole in a tiny way anyways. Not alot of games released there, but still some.

Ernest_The_Crab

#47

Ernest_The_Crab said:

@GamerFromJump Took me a little while to figure out you were saying that in mandarin (since I'm cantonese). Yeah I realized afterwards, when I asked some family members about it (apparently it means something along the lines of "my group" if directly translated).

StarDust4Ever

#49

StarDust4Ever said:

WTF. So with all those "Made in China" pirate Famiclones that are manufactured there, the Chinese people can't even game on their own products? I though the intended market was China since the clones are illegal in most of the world due to copyright law.

Lin1876

#51

Lin1876 said:

I expect Nintendo, if they enter China, will probably only have a niche market, similar to the one they have in South Korea. The reason being that while consoles have been banned in China, games generally have not, and there are plenty of PC and smartphone games on the market there.

hydeks

#52

hydeks said:

@Lin1876 Probably at first, yes, but on the other hand if they went a little more into it with China, maybe they could beat Sony/Microsoft and get some loyal fans? Hard to say, but I agree with you.

Whats with the 10 copies of the same post from StarDust? lol

StarDust4Ever

#54

StarDust4Ever said:

Sorry about that guys, my internet router timed out while I was trying to post, and I got trigger happy with the reply button. Apparently, NLife received the message posts, but the page wasn't updated.

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