News Article

No Game Content "Hostile to China" Will Make It Through As Ban Lifts

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

The size of the market means most will likely play along

Last year the Chinese government confirmed that it'd lift its video game console ban, with news that last week's implementation of that promise contributed to a boost in Nintendo share value; this prompted speculation of the Kyoto company diving into the region. We shouldn't expect Wii U and 3DS systems to flood this market imminently, however, as consoles and games first need to be manufactured in a Shanghai "free zone" and go through approval from China's Ministry of Culture.

None of that will happen overnight, with Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all said to be looking into the possibilities and weighing up options. Beyond logistical issues, the latter above point about gaining approval for products was given some clarity recently, with Cai Wu — head of the Chinese Ministry of Culture — holding a press conference to confirm that rules for video game consoles will be drawn up soon, though no timeframe was provided. It was made clear, however, that the potential requirements could be rather stringent.

Things that are hostile to China, or not in conformity with the outlook of China’s government, won’t be allowed. We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air, but we still need a screen to block the flies and mosquitoes.

Nintendo's previous experience in the region with its plug-and-play iQue console — which plays Nintendo 64 games — and rather limited iQue handhelds covering various system generations, could potentially help in this regard. It's perhaps also to the big N's benefit that its range of family friendly franchises are unlikely to be considered as "hostile to China", issues that could be more prominent with some mature titles on the market around the world.

There's still some way to go for conventional game consoles to arrive in China, it seems, and Nintendo is yet to commit to a venture. It's a potentially valuable market — despite a large percentage of the population having low incomes — as it's already reported to be the third largest for gaming in the world, driven by smartphones and the internet. Consultancy firm PwC projects that it could be the second-largest video game market — behind the U.S. and ahead of Japan — by 2017.

It's certainly an attractive proposition, even if the Chinese government's rules necessitate plenty of jumping through hoops.


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User Comments (46)



Goginho said:

I can't really think of a Nintendo game I've played that's "hostile to China", so I'm sure Super Mario, Legend of Zelda, DK...etc. are safe. Especially Mario



Kaze_Memaryu said:

Ugh, sounds just like the russian "patriot content support". If it's even remotely criticizing towards the regime, it's banned, regardless of the profit or nonsensical nature of it.



NintyMan said:

Jumping through hoops is no surprise to me. I don't know of any Nintendo game that would be "hostile to China," but "not in conformity with the outlook of China's government" sounds vague enough for the Chinese Communist government to ban a game if they just don't like it. We'll see, but I hope Nintendo does manage to break through the market eventually.



element187 said:

So no. battlefield in China, confirmed.... Of course they will be able to pirate it on PC anyways.



Ailingforale said:

This is good news for gaming in general anyway, spread the love.

Also the Super Mario Bros. movie was awesome. I still own it on VHS and would buy it on Blu Ray if they would only release it as such.

Edit I'll settle with DVD, but I haven't seen it in years.



King47 said:

Reading 'ministry of culture' reminded me of Orwell's 1984. And the "to get some fresh air" thing is a bit ironic.

Jokes aside, I think Nintendo can make the original ds and Wii there if the wages seem not good for the 3ds and the wii u. I see Nintendo benefiting from this since their game are the kind of game that can be seen hostile.



GeminiSaint said:

In world 4 of Super Mario Land, Mario goes around China-esque locales, killing its inhabitants. Hostility!



cookiex said:

As long as the regulations don't up as messy as distribution of non-Chinese films then I can see China being a strong market.



ikki5 said:

I wonder how well the Xbox one will make it through the bans... especially with that kinect. lol



Action51 said:

I think Nintendo with it's recognizable and marketable "mascots" along with it's lower price point and family/all ages content should do pretty well in China if they are given the opportunity to sell consoles there.



StarDust4Ever said:

One potential problem I see is piracy. If the consoles are required to be manufactured within China, then pirate factories will simply duplicate the products made by legitamate factories, and there will be R4 DS cards, and tons of cheap $2 Wii discs flooding the market with zero royalties making it back to Nintendo.



StarDust4Ever said:

@AyeHaley Yes, but it will be 1000x worse. On the flip side, if gaming is legitimatized in China, in the long run the government may finally recognise piracy as a threat to profits within the homeland, and actually do something about it, but thinks will become a lot worse in the short term.

Nintendo would be wise to release a downloads only 3DS (with no cartrige port - like Sony's PSP GO) in mainland China to prevent pirated games.



Hyperstar96 said:

@StarDust This is different. Piracy on Wii and DS (and PSP to a lesser extent) was ridiculously easy and required little effort with few to no limitations (i.e. firmware). 3DS piracy is possible, but inconvenient and requires very outdated firmware, omitting features both online and offline. Wii U piracy hasn't been done yet at all outside of a few hackers who refuse to release their work, and even then it's only for a few games and requires outdated firmware.

Even if knowledge of piracy on 3DS and Wii U were to become widespread, they would still require outdated firmwares. Even if these outdated firmwares were easy to require, these new systems offer actual reasons to keep the latest firmware and still be able to use online functionality. DS didn't have firmware (and the newest DSi firmware doesn't restrict anything), and all Wii hacks are possible with the latest firmware (and even when they weren't, there were easy workarounds).

The point I'm trying to make is that piracy won't be nearly as bad this generation as it was in the Wii/DS era. We have nothing to worry about.



Mooj738 said:

Good news for Nintendo, they should create even more sales for the Wii U by the time they get up and running.

Could be really good news for the company and the Wii U selling even more units!



Galactus said:

I wonder if Zelda, Metroid, and Starfox would make the cut. I am sure they would but all feature war and genocide.



Bass_X0 said:

If you can beat up a Chinese person in a game, that probably bans it from being released in China.

Sorry Street Fighter...



BulbasaurusRex said:

@Bass_X0 I'd be more worried about Chun Li showing off too much leg than being able to beat her up.

I wonder if the Animal Crossing games will be banned for allowing the player to participate in free market business. I certainly don't see something like the various Tycoon games being allowed.



TrueWiiMaster said:

"We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air, but we still need a screen to block the flies and mosquitoes."
No matter how I feel about censorship, I have to say that's a pretty clever analogy.

I think Nintendo should capitalize on this opportunity. I mean, assuming China will block most war/violent games from release, Nintendo's the one big developer who should be able to get almost everything in without changing the games. Microsoft shouldn't even bother, as most of their best games are violent/war games, and Sony, while not as bad as Microsoft, is still rather dependent on games that could be considered too violent.



Therrus said:

Sure it is good for the quick buck but I dunno...I like games to on day become like movies or even replace them as the mayor entertainment...and movies can be critical towards certain things...why shouldn't games ?



Einherjar said:

@Therrus "I like games to on day become like movies" pretty much the worst case scenario in a nutshell O.o
Have you ever played games like MGS4 and / or FF XIII ?
Best examples for "games" being 90% movie. MGS has the upper hand though in that IF you are playing the game, its pretty awesome. FF XIII doesnt even have gameplay to begin with

@topic It still baffles me that certain countrys are still that paranoid in this day and age. Im anything but the biggest fan of overly violent games, military shooters etc, but this is somewhat rediculous (not only from a games standpoint) But im no politician, so what do i know.



unrandomsam said:

@Hyperstar96 The second that 3DS carts are made in the Free Trade Zone will be the second that 1:1 clone fake cartridges start coming out for the 3DS.



Therrus said:

@Einherjar You missunderstood me totally.
Never meant for them to lack gameplay but to become the main form of entertainment.
FF13 just sucks because it is the hallway endlessly continueing with no way to leave it and a room for all the characters to lock them in as they don't develop at ALL. Bad example for a game turning into a movie like experience...Heavy Rain was good though.
Still, it is not what I mean because I prefer gameplay games and not more movie then game and I would like to see the first one to become the main form of entertainment.



flightsaber said:

@DestinyMan Based on MMO releases I played when I was in China, these games would need to have characters portray death politely. In the Chinese version of World of Warcraft, anything that dies (enemies included) requires a tombstone animation.



theblackdragon said:

@flightsaber: I never knew that about Chinese gaming. How long do the tombstones have to stay visible on the screen? Do they disappear after a while? It sounds like it could be a funny addition to some games, really :3



Vincent294 said:

I get the whole no games hostile to China part, but also banning games that do not support China's political views? What the heck? It's not much to ask for.



JaxonH said:

Oh, Nintendo's in pole postition for this one, moreso than Sony or Microsoft, because of their naturally non-offensive nature. With China's lower average wages and lack of anything current past the N64, I doubt they'll bring the Wii U to market right now. It'd be too expensive, and it wouldn't have a full catalogue of games. The Wii is perfect though. It stirred a revolution across the globe when it launched, and my guess is they'll see a similar result in China. Oh, those Chinese would LOVE the motion controls. And the console would be cheap, and they could just localize the worthwhile, 1st party titles to avoid shovelware and maximize profits on every game sold. I'm telling you, we're gonna be seeing Wii numbers skyrocket once they get the console to market.



JaxonH said:

Um, yeah. They ban those too lol...

Remember, we're talking about the last great communist regime. The only reason they're thriving is because they're allowing more and more free market activity on the business side of things. And as a result, people often forget that China is indeed Red China, communist China. They may be liberal when it comes to economic free market practices, but they're very much a communist country when it comes to everything else. This is the country that just 30-40 years ago would execute you for being a Christian. Tiananmen Massacre? Yeah, that was China. I'm surprised they're letting ANYTHING in through the Great Wall of Censorship.



Csaw said:

You guys can mock China all you want but we basically have the same thing instilled in the west, only it's the free market blocking these games instead of the government. What was the last game you played that didn't have pro American/European ideals. Military shooters always have you playing as the Americans, the bad guys almost always have a foreign accent, and the "good guys" are always marysues that would never do any wrong.



Magikarp3 said:

Oh cool, next time I go back I can buy some videogames as presents for my cousins!

And then get promptly scolded by my uncles because they're meant to be studying!




IxnayontheCK said:

I remeber that famous Nintendo game "Kirby Return to China To Overthrow The Government" It was a classic china will never know...



StarDust4Ever said:

@Hyperstar96 Anyone with access to a disc pressing plant can make bootleg copies of games. Most all games consist of a bit stream and an encryption key. The encryption key and bit stream do not need to be decrypted to make a bootleg disc. The key is encoded in a barcode within the center ring of the disc, this area cannot be burned on a CD-R, but it would be very easy to manufacture exact copies of any game disc at any Blu-Ray/DVD pressing factory. Furthermore, if the game cards/discs are to be manufactured within China, the actual factories have access to the specs, and could easily print extra copies of games and sell the extras as bootlegs. In this cenario, the bootleg cart will be indistinguishable to an original as far as the system is concerned. Chinese as masters at copying others work. Corruption is high and I wouldn't put it past Chinese factories to break NDA clauses.



Hyperstar96 said:

@StarDust That makes sense... but there's also the matter of Wii U games using a proprietary disc type. And that still doesn't say anything about piracy on 3DS.



StarDust4Ever said:

@Hyperstar96 the data stream may be formatted completely different and incompatible from Blu-Ray, but physically the discs are the same. Wii-U discs hold 25Gb and use a 405nm violet laser to read discs, and probably use the same track spacing, so Pirate Wii-U discs could still easily be stamped out at any Blu-Ray pressing facility.



AltDotNerd said:

I'm going to guess the Fallout 3 DLC "Operation Anchorage" won't make it to China, let alone the whole game itself, since the Chinese Army is the antagonist of Op. Anchorage.



Kolzig said:

Wasn't iQue for Gamecube and not N64?

Edit: Ahh, sorry. Confused it with Panasonic Q.



Zombie_Barioth said:

You know, the 2DS could probably do really well over there. Its rather cheap, more so than the original DS line was at the end of its lifespan if I remember right, it can be updated easily, and still has access to most of the DS library as well. They don't have to worry about the 3D being a problem either.

If they really push digital, not just make it the only option that could help curb piracy at least a bit. I seriously doubt they can match bootleg game prices but they should at least try to work things out so its a much better value than retail.



Therrus said:

Sure they ban it and that is why I hate it that this market opens...they will want to appease them to make more money and that is imho the downfall.



DarkKirby said:

Nintendo games are generally so outright and flatly intentionally politically correct to begin with I highly doubt Nintendo will need to change much, if anything, to not "offend" the Chinese government.

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