Nintendo's iQue Player in China, Plug'n'play systems weren't banned in 2000 (image via Kotaku)

China is perhaps on its way to becoming the most powerful economy in the world and hosted the Olympic Games as recently as 2008, and yet it can be easy to forget how different life is in the Communist state. While it's a country becoming increasingly open to some Western influences — inevitable as it bids for economic dominance — there are still aspects of life there that are very different to those taken for granted elsewhere.

An example of this is that video game consoles have been banned in China since 2000, though some gaming machines are sold by traders if consumers know where to look; some have also been playing games on legal Plug'n'play devices such as Nintendo's iQue Player as well as smartphones and tablets. According to the South China Morning Post, as reported by Kotaku, the ban on dedicated gaming consoles may be lifted in the near future, as the administration of Premier Li and President Xi Jinping aims to show that the country "wants to open up to foreign investors". Of course, the lifting of the ban wouldn't mean that Nintendo and its rivals can simply flood the country with their products.

Apparently, even when the ban is lifted companies will need to manufacture these products in the "Shanghai free trade zone", and all products to go on sale will have to go through "culture-related authorities", which is ultimately likely to be similar to a ratings system but more aggressive with censorship and demands for changes to content. As a result, the likes of Nintendo would need to set up new manufacturing facilities just for China, yet as a rapidly expanding economy of over one billion people that may be an expense worth considering.

This change hasn't happened yet, but it'll be interesting to see whether Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft take the plunge.