Chinese officials are said to be in the process of reviewing a ban on gaming consoles that was established in 2000, potentially opening up a massive untapped market for the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, according to China Daily.
A source within the Ministry of Culture told the paper:
“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.”
Rescinding the ban could take some political wrangling, though, as the source said that all seven ministries that issued the ban will need to approve the decision. The law was originally intended to protect impressionable youth from games.
Whispers of a console ban repeal have been around for years now, but China Daily’s government source suggests authorities are at least reconsidering the rule. Separately, domestic rumors suggest that international console makers may have already caught wind of the talks and are making preparations to enter the market so they can act quickly if the moratorium does lift.
Sony confirmed last year that it had received a quality certification for its PS3 console, while noting that it was “continuing to study the possibility” bringing the device to China. Microsoft launched the Windows version of its Kinect controller last October, though not officially for gaming purposes.
The sales ban has for years been only loosely enforced, as a robust grey market for consoles exists in China. Still, mainstream Chinese consumers would likely take some convincing to switch to console gaming, as gamers are already entrenched in PC and now mobile gaming.
Foreign gaming companies have plenty of incentive to break into China. According to one recent report, the Chinese game industry brought in $9.7 billion in revenue last year across all segments. That figure is expected to grow to $21.7 billion by 2017.
Update: The Ministry of Culture has responded by saying it is not looking into canceling the sales ban.
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