The fight for supremacy between next generation consoles PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has just got more interesting, as one previously untapped market of one billion citizens has just opened its gates.
After 13 years, China will officially lift a ban on consoles and allow them to be freely marketed across its territory. The China console ban will however be lifted on one condition: that the video game consoles are manufactured in Shanghai’s new free trade zone.
The ban was imposed in 2000 and affected the manufacturing, sale and import of consoles in China, amid worries that the content would harm the youth’s physical and mental development.
Ever since then, major video game manufacturers such as Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo have not been able to legally sell their products on the Chinese market, even if they were manufactured there. Consoles have however been available on the black market, while local manufacturers have tried to come up with alternatives.
Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo, for instance, branched out to develop motion detection consoles similar to Microsoft’s Kinect and recently announced plans to launch a games service that would include gameplay tips, social networking and software reviews.
That does not mean that there is no room for the gaming industry’s “Big Three” on the vast Chinese market. Analysts expect a boost in sales once the consoles are freely available. Before reaching the mainland, the three gaming giants’ products will have to be approved by the Chinese Ministry of Culture, to insure that the content is appropriate.
Even so, the opening of the Chinese market is very likely to have a major impact on the outcome of the battle for gaming superiority, as it has the potential to allow Microsoft, Sony and even Nintendo to reach hundreds of millions of users who would be eager to buy previously banned consoles and games.
China’s ban on consoles will be lifted soon and is part of a wider policy strategy for the new Shanghai free trade zone. The new trade zone is strongly backed by the country’s prime minister, with the goal of increasing the Chinese economy’ openness to the world.
What do you think of the decision and how will it impact the sales of new gaming consoles in the long run?
[Image via Kotaku]