Video game firms power up on prospect of end to Chinese ban

SHARES in Sony and Nintendo leapt yesterday amid hopes that the Chinese government would end a ban on video game consoles.

The country’s official newspaper, China Daily, said the country’s culture department was considering allowing consoles in the world’s second-biggest economy for the first time since 2000, when they were banned to protect children.

This would provide a much-needed boost to Sony and Nintendo, which saw shares rise by nine and 3.5 per cent respectively in Tokyo yesterday.

Both Japanese firms reported annual losses last year on a slowdown in the home console market. Sony’s PlayStation 3 has been on sale for more than five years, while Nintendo has been affected by the rise in casual gamers on smartphones and tablets. It launched its Wii U console in November in an attempt to revive sales and steal a march on Sony and Microsoft’s Xbox, which could unveil new consoles this year.

Despite home consoles being prohibited in China, it is expected that there would be a healthy appetite for them. Online games on computers, for example, are extremely popular.

“We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market,” the China Daily quoted a government source as saying.