China considers lifting games console ban

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Chinese government is reportedly considering lifting its 13-year ban on video games consoles.

While consoles have been available on the black market, it's been illegal to manufacture, sell or import them since 2000, thanks to concerns over the health of young people.

Even the makers of mobile or PC games are required to include 'anti-addiction' features such as a built-in timer, and gamers are required to verify their name and age.

Now, though, according to the China Daily newspaper, the policy's  being reconsidered.

"We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market," a source from the Ministry of Culture told the paper.

"However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it."

Console makers will be delighted at the news - the massive enthusiasm for other forms of consumer technology in China bode very well indeed for potential sales. Indeed, shares in Sony jumped nine percent at the report.

A spokesman for Sony has told Bloomberg that the company is in discussions with Chinese regulators about lifting the ban and is 'preparing for possible business opportunities'.

However, with much of the world seeing a shift from consoles to mobile gaming - already very popular in China - the opportunities aren't as big as it might at first appear. And the country's thriving market in pirated PC and mobile games won't help much either.