China has lifted a 13-year-long ban on gaming consoles and is preparing to draft rules allowing the machines to be made in the Shanghai free-trade zone, potentially opening the door for Japanese gaming giants Sony Corp and Nintendo Co to enter the Chinese market.
The Chinese State Council — China’s Cabinet — temporarily suspended the ban while new regulations are drafted, it said in a statement posted on its Web site on Monday.
“[The] China mainland is an attractive market,” said Satoshi Nakajima, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Sony’s gaming division, which has sold 2.1 million of its PlayStation 4 units as of early last month since the product hit the market on Nov. 15 last year. “We will seek to expand when there is an opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Kyoto, Japan-based Nintendo is studying what it can do in the Shanghai free-trade zone, company spokesman Yasuhiro Minagawa said.
He declined to elaborate.
China banned gaming consoles such as Microsoft Corp’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii U and Sony’s PlayStation in 2000 to protect young people from the perceived corrupting influence of video games.
However, Beijing announced last year that the prohibition would be lifted within the free-trade zone, which opened in September of that year.
Microsoft and BesTV New Media Co (百視通新媒體), a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group (上海文廣集團), in September last year said they had formed a US$79 million gaming venture to take advantage of the eased regulations.
Separately on Monday, Microsoft said that consumers purchased more than 3 million Xbox One consoles last year, following the device’s debut in 13 countries on Nov. 22.
The US giant announced the tally on its Xbox news Web site, as it tries to keep pace with Sony’s PlayStation 4, which went on sale a week earlier in North America.