China is set to completely lift its 15-year ban on console sales.
The move will pave the way for Sony and Microsoft to bring the PS4 and Xbox One to a larger portion of the Chinese public.
The ban on console sales was enacted in China in 2000. In January last year it was announced that console manufacturers would be able to sell consoles in the country, as long as they were built in Shanghai’s free trade zone. These were still subject to approval by the Chinese government, however.
Following the new ruling, companies such as Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony can now manufacture hardware and sell them anywhere in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.
A Sony spokesperson described the announcement as “great news for us”.
Despite the promises of a rich, almost untapped market for console manufacturers in the world’s most populated country, it remains to be seen if platform holders can become a success in the market.
Last year, upon the news that China had begun allowing sales in its free-trade zones, Games Investor Consulting and Gunjin Games director Nick Gibson said the Chinese Government heavily regulated games released in the country. There are also “radically different tastes” in content themes, gameplay, game types and graphics styles between China and the West, he said.
“Chinese gamers have been raised on a diet of games with service-based revenue models: F2P, microtransactions and variations on subscriptions,” Gibson wrote.
“Any half-successful game that is created as a product rather than a service will inevitably suffer massive piracy rates.
“The console makers would have to make significant changes to the way they deal with both consumers and content providers with a wholesale move to service-based revenue and customer support models. I doubt any of the console companies could manage such a huge transition any time soon.”
You can read Nick Gibson’s full article ‘Is China’s new console market a walled garden?’ here.