Video game console manufacturers have received great news today: China has officially lifted its ban on video game consoles. China had a ban on video game consoles? Indeed, it did. The country banned all consoles in 2000.
What gave the Chinese Government that crazy idea? There was some concern (stemming from scientific research of sorts, no doubt) that video games caused serious mental and physical problems in kids. Moving on...
Not Out of the Water Yet
In an official announcement, the Chinese Government has stated that video game console manufacturers can now sell consoles that are manufactured in free trade zones. But, it won't be that easy for big name gaming companies to sell in China. The Ministry of Culture in China must approve all consoles and games sold in the country before they go to market. Guess what it will take to grease those wheels? I'm going to take a stab in the dark and say: money.
Still, China is a huge potential market for video game console manufacturers. Where is China's free trade zone? In Shanghai. Shanghai is kind of like China's New York City (for comparative purposes). It's the tech hub, and the Chines Government works tirelessly to make sure that Shanghai stays current. So, luring the likes of Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony to Shanghai will help with that intention - it also helps with China's slowing economy.
Helping China's Economy Grow
After many years of prosperous growth, the Chinese economy is starting to slow. That's not a good thing, and it's something that the Chinese Government wants to avoid. What better way to boost the economy than to allow the sale of video game consoles (something that many people in China have only been able to purchase through the black market until now) that have been manufactured in China? See the logic here?
But, there's little disputing the fact that this new allowance will help the likes of companies like Nintendo. Nintendo has been struggling to sell consoles for some time now, so it's likely that the company will see some, much needed, growth when spreading to China (which seems likely). Again, each console and game has to be approved before it can be sold, but, let's get real here, that's just a matter of paying off the right official.
Other Signs of Release from Oppression
There's some rumors circulating today, as well, that the Chinese Government will also be lifting various Internet bans. WSJ reports that the government will allow some companies to offer direct Internet access to residents of China, but not much more has been stated on that topic.
It's also become something of a rumor that China might soon lift bans on certain social networking sites like Facebook, but, again, that information is sparse.
We could see a whole new flock of consoles targeted specifically for a Chinese audience coming from the three major gaming players. We may also see some other console manufacturers setting up shop in China - which, by the way, is hard to do. What do you think?
Photo from Camera_Recycler Via Flickr Creative Commons