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For the first time in over a decade, Chinese citizens will be able to legally purchase video game consoles in the country’s “free trade zone,” located in Shanghai. As long as the consoles are produced within the Shanghai zone, they can be sold.
China initially banned consoles in 2000, hoping to protect their youth, but the Chinese Ministry of Culture began reconsidering the ban in January 2013. Nine months later, in September, the state officially announced their plans for the Shanghai free trade zone, where consoles could be sold freely.
Despite this new development, game companies aren’t jumping into this new market, at least not yet. Nintendo Japan PR Manager Yasuhiro Minagawa was unable to confirm any definite plans on Nintendo’s part. “We are still not sure exactly what we will be able to do in Shanghai, and thereafter in Greater China. Both with hardware and software, there are many things we have to look into and so we can’t say anything concrete.”
Sony Computer Entertainment spokesman Satoshi Nakajima had less to say, but what he did say was more optimistic. “China mainland is an attractive market, we will seek to expand when there is an opportunity,” Nakajima said in a statement to Bloomberg.
At the moment, we have no official statement from Microsoft on the sale of Xbox units in China. However, the software giant recently teamed up with Chinese Internet/TV company BesTV in the hopes of creating “family games and related services.” Microsoft invested $237 million in this venture.
The film industry has profited immensely from the international market — especially China — with otherwise unsatisfactory domestic box office earners like Pacific Rim making a large amount of ticket sales overseas. It remains to be seen whether the games industry will choose to reap the same rewards.