China's 15-year ban on foreign video game consoles will come to an end after the country's Ministry of Culture posted a notice stating they'll ease the restrictions on Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo systems. The move opens the door for video game companies to enter a market that already spends over $22 billion a year on mobile games and domestic video game consoles, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"We welcome the move," Sony spokesman Sousuke Kamei told the Associated Press in an e-mail. "We remain committed to deliver fun and exciting console gaming experiences to as many Chinese users as possible." Video game consoles were banned in 2000 after parents voiced concerns that children were wasting too much time playing video games as well as what they felt were adverse effects on China's youth.
In its absence, computer and mobile video games flooded the Chinese market, although foreign consoles such as Nintendo's Wii, Sony's Playstation and Microsoft's Xbox were available in limited quantities through the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone. Under the new edict, all consoles produced in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone will automatically be approved for sale in China.
In their notice, the Ministry of Culture said the deregulated foreign video game consoles would promote "healthy and progressive" entertainment as well as develop the country's technological talents. Even though China has opened the door to foreign video game consoles, the video games themselves will still be subject to censorship, the AP writes.