China Opens Its Market to Games Consoles
Games consoles have mostly been banned in China since 2000, the result of concerns about potential adverse effects on children’s mental health. Games have been available for PCs and mobile platforms, but consoles like the PlayStation and Xbox haven’t been widely available through standard channels for 15 years.
China’s Ministry of Culture has now lifted restrictions on the manufacture and sales of consoles in the country. It’s a potential windfall for Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony and publishers of some top titles, though software will still be required to go through government approval processes.
Game consoles aren’t completely new to China. Microsoft made its Xbox One available in limited volumes at the end of 2014 via the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone, an open economic area located within Shanghai. There’s thought to be a significant grey market for consoles in China, and the government’s deregulation will be a test of Chinese consumers’ preferences for gaming.
China’s current population is 1.37 billion, with almost 200 million people between the ages of 15 and 24. The market is already familiar with games on smartphones and computers. The arrival of popular consoles in China can be expected to meet an eager audience, though many of the most popular game titles might not be available. The relative freshness of the console market in China will make it an interesting petri dish in which to judge to strength of each brand.
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