China Ends Ban on Game Consoles
The last major market is now open for business to video game console manufacturers. After opening up console sales for those units made in a specified “free-trade zone” in Shanghai, the Chinese government has opened up the country further to home games consoles. Now, consoles manufactured anywhere in China will be allowed to be sold in the country.
Last January, China had partially lifted the restriction on the sales of video game consoles but no one had really taken them up on it. Sony was the only manufacturer that was reported to be seriously working towards manufacturing consoles in line with the partial restriction. However, nineteen months after the restriction was partially lifted, none of the major manufacturers had started selling consoles so the ban was lifted.
The new regulations don’t mean that it’s carte blanche for manufacturers but it’s pretty close. The consoles sold in China must be manufactured in China. Fortunately for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, each has manufacturing lines at Foxconn factories in China which will put them in compliance with the new law.
The big challenge for the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo right now will be diving into the pool that is the Chinese video game market. Sure, it’ll be very lucrative if they do get some sales momentum but the problem is that without console availability, the Chinese market is dominated by PC, mobile and web-based games. Their competition may not be themselves but other platforms that they don’t consider as big competition in North America and Europe.
What the big three console manufacturers would need to do is be able to shift people away from their habits and to something new. That’s something they’ve been struggling with in western markets with digital downloads, steaming games and always-online consoles. The saving grace they might have is the ongoing westernization of Chinese culture. With console gaming popular outside of China, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see consoles quickly make sales because of their predominance in western gaming culture.
Source: The Verge