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.