For fourteen years, one of the world’s largest countries hasn’t been able to play the very products it assembles. That country would be China, which in 2000 passed an unusual ban. Claiming the devices were poisoning young minds, China banned video game consoles. That means Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have been unable to get a foothold in a marketplace with a billion people, while PC games and mobile games have become the choice for billions of people in the massive communist dictatorship. Well, that’s all changing. China has reversed its ban on video game consoles, opening the third-largest video game market up to exploitation.
That’s an untapped market of people looking for new video game experiences, assuming the major companies can get around to taking advantage of it. Last year, Chinese consumers spent $14 billion on video games, mostly free games on mobile phones and games for PCs. With the ban suspended, companies in the free-trade zone of Shanghai are now free to produce, distribute, and sell video games to the people of China, bringing an entire generation of consoles out of the darkness of the black market and into the light. Unfortunately, most Chinese consumers make less than $643 a month, making the purchase of a $500 Xbox One or $400 Playstation 4 a difficult process. To add to the confusion, the rules are vague.
Said Nintendo spokesman Yasuhigo Minagawa, “We are still not sure exactly what we will be able to do in Shanghai, and thereafter in Greater China. Both with hardware and software, there are many things we have to look into and so we can’t say anything concrete.”
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