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article imageAfter 15 years, game consoles are officially legal in China again

By James Walker     Jul 27, 2015 in Technology
China has officially relaxed its formal ban on video game consoles which has been in place since 2000 and has prevented the sale of dedicated gaming devices. It was feared playing games could be detrimental to the development of children.
The lifting of the ban makes it possible for Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and others to begin freely selling their consoles in the country. Manufacturers are also able to open production plants anywhere in the country and use them to build video game consoles.
They must still abide by strict rules and obtain a license from the government that enables them to do business. Games must not promote ideas that challenge the beliefs of the Chinese government.
China began to ease off the restrictions last year by allowing game consoles into the 11-square-mile Shanghai Free Trade Zone, as the Verge notes. However, every console sold had to be inspected by authorities and manufacturers had to gain approval for sales from regulators.
The Xbox One became available in September 2014 and the PlayStation 4 in March of this year. Now, devices like the Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo Wii U can be sold anywhere in China without first gaining prior approval.
The consoles were banned as they became popular at the turn of the century. It was thought that allowing their presence could have a negative impact on the mental and physical development of children.
Under the ban, consoles and accompanying games were still smuggled into the country and sold on the black market. China continues to heavily censor other forms of digital media and most foreign websites are blocked, including services like Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Without the option of a console, most Chinese people have turned to alternatives instead. PC and mobile gaming is very popular in the country. Indeed, China has the largest PC game sector in the world, worth $6 billion, and it remains to be seen whether people will begin to adopt consoles once sales commence.
CNN Money reports that Sony spokesperson Sousuke Kamei said: "We welcome the move. We remain committed to delivering fun and exciting console gaming experiences to as many Chinese users as possible." Microsoft did not comment while Nintendo said it would continue to research and study the Chinese market.
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