CHINA has ended its 14-year ban on foreign-made games consoles which has blocked Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo from selling devices to the country’s 1.3bn citizens.
While PlayStations and Xboxes have long been available in China illegally, PC gaming is the only legitimate form of gaming and has flourished due to the popularity of online gaming at internet cafes.
The gaming market in China grew 38 per cent in 2013 to 83bn Chinese yuan (£8.37bn), according to the China Games Industry Annual Conference.
China originally banned gaming consoles in 2000, citing adverse effects on the mental health of its youth.
Officials in China’s State Council have yet to clarify whether the suspension of the ban is a temporary measure, or a more permanent move for the country.
Nintendo, which makes the Wii consoles, said that the ruling changed little from when China’s government said in September last year that it planned to lift the ban.
“We are still not sure exactly what we will be able to do in Shanghai, and thereafter in Greater China,” said Nintendo’s Japan-based public relations manager Yasuhiro Minagawa. “Both with hardware and software, there are many things we have to look into and so we can’t say anything concrete.”
Satoshi Nakajima, spokesman for PlayStation owner Sony Computer Entertainment, said:“We do recognise that China is a promising market, and we will continue to study the possibility.”
Another possible hurdle for manufacturers is the availability, albeit illegally, of consoles in China.