China to End Ban on Videogame Consoles

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By Edward Smith | January 28, 2013 8:55 PM EST

The Chinese government is considering lifting a 13 year ban on videogame consoles within the country.

According to an anonymous source from the Chinese Culture Ministry, speaking to the the state-operated China Daily, several approvals are still needed before the ban, which has been in place since 2000, can be lifted:

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

China has a ban on consoles over concerns that videogames are detrimental to the physical and mental health of young people. 

However, according to Reuters, in November, 2012, Sony's PlayStation 3 received a standard of quality certification from the Chinese safety standards body, prompting speculation that the government would lift its ban on console. Also, in October, Microsoft introduced its Kinect to China, though it is apparently not being used for entertainment purposes, but is being used in educational and industrial situations.

Zhang Yaqin, chairman of Microsoft Corp's Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group told China Daily at the time that:

"Kinect's entry into China does not mean Microsoft's game console has come to China. Currently, we don't have a timetable for our game consoles entering the Chinese market. It needs government approval."

As a result of rumours that the Chinese console ban may be lifted, Sony and Nintendo's stock price has increased. On the Nikkei index in Tokyo, Sony's share price jumped nine percent to ¥1,349 (£137.69) while Nintendo's increased by 3.5 percent to close at ¥9,120.

In response, Yoshiko Uchiyama, a spokesperson for Sony Computer Entertainment said Sony was "prepping business opportunities" in China.

"Our stance towards business in China has not changed. Of course, we acknowledge China as a promising market for our business, and we are always considering and preparing business opportunities and possibilities [in China]."

However, a second source from China's Ministry for Culture has denied that the ban might be lifted. The government official, speaking to Reuters and identifying himself only as "Bai", said "the ministry is not considering lifting the ban."

Nintendo has declined to comment on any plans it may have to move into the Chinese videogame market.

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