News Article

Nintendo Will Have Plenty of Hoops to Jump Through to Release Full Console and Game Range in China

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Process outlined as Microsoft solidifies plans

At the beginning of this year Nintendo stock prices had a temporary bump that some attributed to China formally lifting its console ban, a move that had been confirmed in 2013. As a still-growing economy of a significant size and a market increasingly open to non-Chinese products and brands, it's a potentially lucrative market.

Microsoft, for its part, is bringing the Xbox One to the market later this year in partnership with a local distributor, though it's an untested area. Some analysts suggest that Chinese consumers are more likely to dive into smart device gaming, while inexpensive plug-and-play systems — such as Nintendo's own iQue console that plays some Nintendo 64 games — are already a presence on the market [update: there are also limited-use DS and 3DS 'iQue' systems with few playable titles]. Nevertheless, Nintendo and Sony have both stated that they're looking into full expansion in the Chinese market.

As has always been clear, however, the Chinese government is imposing exceptionally controlling and tight restrictions; for one thing, manufacturing for systems in the country must take place in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, which will have logistical costs of its own. Gamasutra has been able to go further in establishing the details of the process by translating the "Detailed Implementation Rules for Cultural Market Opening in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone". It's the 'Municipal Administration of Culture, Radio, Film, and TV' that will handle games for approval, for example, with 20 workdays the period of assessment. While that might seem like merely a minor extension to ratings processes elsewhere, the section below highlights the somewhat different standards being applied in comparison to other territories.

Game and entertainment devices and related products sold in the domestic market should not infringe on intellectual property rights, and should aid in the dissemination of scientific, artistic, and cultural knowledge, benefiting the healthy development of young people. Products may not contain content banned by Article 13 of the Entertainment Venue Management Law, nor may they allow for point betting, coin return, token return, or other gambling features. Text on the product itself, in games, and in instructions should be in the Chinese language.

It could be argued that the need for video game products to benefit "the healthy development of young people" could help Nintendo, in particular, while we imagine franchises such as Call of Duty shouldn't even attempt to gain approval. Should Nintendo enter the Chinese market beyond its minor plug-and-play presence, it's also unclear whether it would be with the Wii U and 3DS or even the Wii / DS era of systems.

It's worth reading the full details at the link below, which cover the bureaucracy to conquer when arranging events for game products, too. It may be a potentially lucrative market, but Nintendo has plenty of work ahead if it's to successfully get further involved in the Chinese console scene.

[via gamasutra.com]

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User Comments (18)

DarkSplatoonLink

#1

DarkSplatoonLink said:

Wasn't the 3DS already released in China? As the 'iQue 3DS XL'? There were even special Mario-themed designs for it.

ThomasBW84Admin

#2

ThomasBW84 said:

@DarkToonLink I think you're right, but it was a weird version with just two games.

That said, the headline makes no sense, so I'll change it!

mikeyman64

#3

mikeyman64 said:

I wonder what the classics market will be like. Since I doubt there is much of any Nintendo nostalgia floating around China, I would think it would be difficult to market the older stuff, which seems to be a fairly large selling point for Nintendo everywhere else.

That being said, it sounds like Nintendo's QoL plan might be perfect for this new market.

TheRavingTimes

#4

TheRavingTimes said:

Perhaps Nintendo and its distributors can be a little more fair with their consumers when it comes to releasing games. A console with Star Fox 64, Super Mario 64, Wave Race 64, and Ocarina of Time at launch (along with demos for each of these games and Dr. Mario 64 bundled up in the memory card) is nothing no launching matter for rival businesses, until you realize that only 14 titles are released in the console's entire history from a timespan of 2003-2006, when the initial console released its last game in 2002. On the brighter side of the spectrum, it did give China the Japan exclusives Custom Robo, Sin and Punishment and Animal Crossing on the NIntendo 64.

ICHIkatakuri

#6

ICHIkatakuri said:

I'd think it could be good, but without knowing all costs involved it might be a large initial spend on an untested territory that not many would simply jump at (except MS of course)

StarDust4Ever

#7

StarDust4Ever said:

Best to stick with the budget-minded consumers and go with scaled down Wii/DS consoles. Porting existing games is simply a matter of translation. Most Chinese citizens don't have a lot of dough, so Microsoft peddling their $500 Xbox Ones in the land of cheap products seems futile. Being an emerging market, Nintendo could peddle last gen tech there (Wii Mini?) and consumers would be none the wiser.

StarDust4Ever

#8

StarDust4Ever said:

@mikeyman64 Chinese people are no doubt familiar with pirate Chinese Famiclones. That crap was everywhere in Hong Kong, years before they started trying to peddle PowerJoys in US Malls.

Takerkaneanite6

#11

Takerkaneanite6 said:

Mario Kart 8 Sales Would Increase Significantly If The Wii U Actually Gets Released In China, This Might Sound Optimistic, But Maybe Mario Kart 8 Could Be In The Top 3 Best Selling Mario Kart Games By Time The Next Nintendo Console Releases.......

unrandomsam

#12

unrandomsam said:

Does that mean they have to make the cartridges in the Free Trade Zone ? (If it does I suspect it will enable rampant bootlegging).

AVahne

#13

AVahne said:

"Game and entertainment devices and related products sold in the domestic market should not infringe on intellectual property rights"
I thought the Chinese government doesn't give a koopa troopa about IP rights. Or was that copyright?

AVahne

#14

AVahne said:

@StarDust4Ever
Giving them the Wii Mini makes sense. Heck, it seems like that console was made especially for them, but then mistakenly sold to the wrong market first.

mike_intellivision

#15

mike_intellivision said:

One thing that is missing in this discussion is the content of the games.

The fantasy-world games Nintendo makes may be much more suited for a place with strong censorship than real-world based games that dominate other systems. Also, with Nintendo's first-party lineup control, it may be much easier for it than someone else — if it does it work.

flightsaber

#16

flightsaber said:

As an expat who will be living in Shanghai for the next year, I really hope the iQue DS currently sold in HK in traditional Chinese is ported to simplified Chinese that I can read easily. There is a limited number of titles (making the purchase mostly just for pokemon Diamond/Pearl), but the iQue DS is unlocked out of the box, so it could replace my DS Lite and play American region DS games as well.

King47

#17

King47 said:

I hope the developers don't keep the Chinese limitations in mind when making games. I generally don't play violent games, or games with gambling or other things China doesn't want, but I don't want them omitted because the publishers and developers want that market.

Lobster

#18

Lobster said:

You have to be very careful when restrictions are as simple as "no gambling." Well, Mario Party is out! (Possibly all of the Mario games where you go into a Toad Hut and match three for power ups!) Etc. Nintendo is certainly going to have a LESS difficult time than Sony or Microsoft but in the end choosing which games to port that fit the bill... I can't imagine even they will have too many.

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