News Article

China Removes Game Console Ban

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

There is a catch or two

Earlier this year we reported that China was considering a removal of its ban on video game consoles; it was a rule that was bypassed by TV plug and play systems, including a Nintendo offering called iQue which included Nintendo 64 games. Modern systems with separately sold retail games were, however, out of bounds.

As part of its continued drive to encourage foreign investment, China has now followed through with the expected legislation to lift the limitations. There are rules, however, which fall in line with what was previously reported; the hardware must be produced in the free-trade zone of Shanghai, while all products must be approved by the Ministry of Culture.

With China potentially on the way to officially being the largest individual economy in the world, it would be surprising if the big players, including Nintendo, declined the opportunity to tackle the market; it'll be interesting to watch. As indicated above, Nintendo would need to setup manufacturing in the relevant area and jump through some hoops before we'll see Wii U and 3DS systems sold legally in China.


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User Comments (60)



AyeHaley said:

Microsoft is also teaming up with a company to bring xbox to China. Apparently.



Samurai_Goroh said:

3DS is actually already sold legally in China, just rebranded as iQue 3DS. Like all portables dating back to the Game Boy Advance, the legislation apparently left a loophole that allowed for handhelds and TV plug-and-play systems.



Salnax said:

I wonder if China would be more tolerant of the American Xbox or the Japanese PlayStation and Nintendo products. They don't have a historically good relationship with either country, and that may poison local attempts to expand.

Looking at this from another point of view, imagine a Chinese gaming console being brought to Japan and the West. Could that possibly be the next big thing in console gaming? A fourth competitor?



Humphries90 said:

Good news for me, I live here. Although it was possible to buy them anyways.

True about the iQue player... but the games available are only pre-installed on the console. Buying new games is a no-no. Though i think the iQue 3DS XL lets you download Nintendo produced games from the eshop.



ricklongo said:

Nintendo is definitely poised to take advantage of that, especially since their games are generally more focused on gameplay and family friendly characters rather than the realism and gore of the ubiquitous shooters that flood other consoles.



darkev9001 said:

they said legally bought, and i thought: "hey you, want a WiiU?" -opens his coat to reveal five WiiUs underneath-



MrGawain said:

It depends what being 'produced in Shanghai' actually means. Are we talking every component being assembled piece by piece, or could you ship in 3 parts that could be put together in a Shanghai factory together to make a console?

Plus I would bet most gaming companies (especially Nintendo), would be a little wary of giving Chinese manufacturers too much knowledge about what goes into and how to make a games console- Chinese factories are notorious for not paying that much attention to Copyright.



NintyMan said:

I hope Nintendo takes advantage of this. I imagine there will have to be some obstacles to clear for Nintendo to clearly market over there, and it'll be interesting to see how strict the government censorship is. What will happen if 3DS and Wii U had to compete with those iQue knockoffs?



marck13 said:

Does Nintendo officially make money with this iQue-Consoles or is that just a stolen copy?



Samurai_Goroh said:

@DestinyMan iQue are not knockoffs. It is a joint venture between Nintendo and a Chinese company, quite simply it is a brand of Nintendo.
It would be tremendous for Nintendo to sell the Wii U on China, with the iQue brand or not. But perhaps, the older and cheaper Wii would be a bigger hit even.



LztheQuack said:

In all honesty, the Chinese market may not buy a lot of Xbox Ones, PS4s or even Wii Us. Nintendo might be smarter to sell the much cheaper Wii in China.



Nintend0ro said:

What choice do they have? There are three gaming giants in this world: two Japanese and one American. If gamers are gonna buy a console, they'll have to make a choice out of those three or play on PC.



MAB said:

China should probably catch-up on some good old Atari 2600 classics then slowly work their way up to a SEGA ↓




CrazyOtto said:

I think it's mostly just going to be Nintendo and Sony over there like in the rest of Asia.



Senario said:

@AJWolfTill It can be. The chinese company Tencent is in charge of the Monster hunter frontier series if I remember. It is an MMO. It isnt that popular among some MH fans because like an MMO it is incredibly impossible to get any of the good materials. This turns up the grind from being able to get all the materials you need in an hour or two to having to making sets specifically for killing a monster as fast as possible and still having way too small a chance to finish a set in a reasonable time.



Mk_II said:

Because Nintendo already has the iQue brand up & running for years this is an excellent opportunity for them to broaden their marketplace.



ULTRA-64 said:

Is anything accepted from other communist countries like Vietnam/ Cuba I wonder!?! There could be production there already?



JuanitoShet said:

@Hyperstar96 When you ask a non-gamer about consoles, they'll tell you about the Xbox, PlayStations & "Nintendos". Your everyday person doesn't know that Valve exists, therefore not making it a fourth major player.

But hey, I wouldn't be surprised if they got there much sooner than later, though. They know what they're doing.



Kicked2TheKirb said:

wait so... this whole time people in China never had video game consoles???! Wow... that's crazy .. i can't imagine a world without video games. how did they play video games?... oh ique?.. hmmm plug n play? like the crap i see at kiosk at the mall..
I can't believe China, they're crazy with power over there.



rjejr said:

Im sure Nintendo will sell the Wii U in China, theyll just forget to advertise it.



NintyMan said:

Well, if the iQues really are Nintendo products, then Nintendo should still capitalize on the Chinese market with the actual consoles. I would still be wondering how strict the government would be in regulating video game content.



WinterWarm said:


True, true. It's kinda sad when politics affect video games.

Anyway, as a whole, this is seriously awesome news! There's over a billion people in China, and while not all will be able to afford video games, I think it'll drastically help Nintendo.



Caryslan said:

@MrGawain As long as Nintendo keeps a close eye on things, I don't see the problems. They have already crossed this bridge a long time ago given all their recent systems are made in China.

A bit too late for Nintendo or even Sony to worry about this issue.



Dogpigfish said:

No money in China until they can honor copyright infringement laws. Until then, they'll just be a manufacturer.



mullen said:

As someone already pointed out, China has iQue, 3DS and DS, which are legal produced and supported by Nintendo. That's exactly same as what will happen to XBox One, which will be branded under BesTV, and supported by Microsoft. Someone also pointed out that there is only few games playable on i3DS. That's true, but that's Nintendo's fault. They could legally localize games, as they have already done that for several years and have several titles (before 3DS), but they didn't continue that way (when the system was not jailbroken so piracy was not a problem at that time; actually that was Nintendo's best chance, because as I know, at that time lots of Chinese players were already preferred to pay high price for games (even higher than the price in U.S. due to shipping fee)). Meanwhile, I assume BesTV's XBox One will not suffer from lack of games because XBox One will not region locked. However, it's already somewhat too late for 3DS, cause it has already been jailbroken, and you should know that what does it mean in China: either play very limited localized games with high price, or play all games from all regions, free. So, I can't see it as good news for Nintendo, as it has not changed their situation in China at all, but only make their competitors in a better position.
Btw, iDS actually sells well in China, because of warranty, price, and not region locked. But the games are not due to piracy. I don't know if anyone actually buy i3DS so far, I only heard 1-2 out of hundreds, and if they buy, it just because the exclusive Mario theme cover only available in China. Most Chinese players buy JP or NA versions (both versions are equally popular) 3DS instead of i3DS just because region lock, even that means the machine has no warranty, and may be actually second-handed one (but sold as brand new).
Sorry to type so much since I think most readers, and even Nintendo itself, don't really know Chinese video game market.



Kirk said:

I always thought the iQue Player was a pretty cool idea actually.



Gioku said:

I'm a bit confused... why were home consoles with separate games banned in the first place?



StarDust4Ever said:

That's nice. It's bad enough that nearly everything we consume is manufactured in China, now china wants to use it's massive market to bully companies into relocating manufacturing facilities inside the country. Essentially, china is banning imported consoles while they export everything.

The article also explains the prevalence of all those made in China TV-Games Famiclones, despite the fact that such systems violate international copyright. I also have the feeling that once manufacture facilities exist inside china, the copycats will have a field day, since China seems generally reluctant to enforce international patents inside their boarders, and piracy runs rampant.

Manufacturers will produce "extra" surplus and sell these inside China without paying any royalties to the companies that produce them. Much worse, these unlicensed "fakes" will be made at the same factory and be identical to the real hardware.

I would caution companies that want to capitalize on the market in China, because none of the dollars spent are likely to leave china's borders, meaning Nintendo will likely get little royalties if any on consoles manufactured and sold in China. That and most game discs sold in the mainland will be bootlegs.



DarkKirby said:

while all products must be approved by the Ministry of Culture

So basically they are going to censor or ban games based on content.

Arceus forbid someone plays Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and decides to go on a vigilante mission to take down corrupt government in China.



jayclayx said:

@DarkAngel_17 dont underestimate the chinese manofacturing power, actually they do have all the tecnology to make a god console and the chinese people are really nationalist and if they beay their own market is already big enough to compete with microsoft or sony,



Gunnerholic said:

Aren't all games consoles manufactured in China anyway? How difficult would it be to ship consoles from China to, er, China?



Sceptic said:

They finally figured out that they had banned what was basically one of the best ways to spy on their citizens. I'm sure Microsoft is working with them on a China-specific version of the Xbone. If they play this right, it may even become mandatory.



unrandomsam said:

@StarDust America is the same. Want to build something for a US Aircraft you have to do it in the US. Ignore any international rulings that affect them or any American companies. (What makes it so amusing is America was founded on using stolen British IP and that helped them become what they are today. China is just doing exactly what they did).



BlackStar9000 said:

@Hyperstar96 they really aren't as of yet, steam is a distributor, not a console and only recieves a small percentage of the sales of software sold, they are also extremely slow at releasing ANYTHING, im still wondering about half life 3, its been over 10 years, also take into account that games are sold for a much lower price and that sales figures MUST high to turn a real profit, and this is coming from a guy who loves steam and Nintendo



mr570 said:

@unrandomsam Stolen Brittish IP? Oh, you mean the tea? Well we didn't really want it and decided to toss it in Boston Harbor. What exactly is this Brittish IP you speak of? Sorry to be rather flip, but to compare the US to china is laughable and offensive.



wombatkidd said:

@StarDust China is a sovereign nation that does not recognize copy right law, and has the right not to if it so choses. You don't like it? Tough.



Senario said:

@wombatkidd That and what is the point of arguing that it is somehow a bad thing for products to be made abroad. Are you willing to pay more? Do you know anybody who WANTS a manufacturing job ? Nowadays parts come from all over the world and the made in ____ is simply a formality.



Araknie said:

Nintendo was always the only one having a fanbase in China, even the recent iQue 3DS was sold legally there.

Xbox One will be sold not before 2014 and Wii U will come there in that period. But we all know that Asians don't like Microsoft in gaming, because of it's poor choices of gameplay. The only thing they was interested was Monster Hunter because of the vastity and possibilities of the game.

They are quite used to having MMO much better than Western ones, with ton of stuff to do an many variations on the gameplay.

At least this is were, i think, Nintendo is very strong. In the gameplay.



Yorumi said:

Considering how much china steals I really wish the game companies would put their own self-imposed embargo on china. One big tactic of china is to make deals with companies so that they can see the manufacturing process and steal the technology. They then steal it, make their own blatantly copyright infringing version and impose extreme tariffs on the imported products.

Whether or not they end up doing this with game consoles is irrelevant, it'd just be nice to see the console manufacturers say "we didn't need the market before, so we're going to take a stand on principle here."

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