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.