Chinese officials have temporarily relaxed a 14-year ban on video game consoles.
"They've announced yesterday that they're temporarily lifting that ban while the state council drafts new rules that will be applied in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone." (Via Bloomberg)
Production and sale of consoles were banned in 2000.
Officials cited objectionable and violent content, and possible negative moral influence. Under the new rules, official regulators will still have to vet consoles like the PlayStation 4. (Via Eurogamer)
But The New York Times explains China could hold a large untapped market for video game consoles.
"By the end of 2013, China had about 490 million players of electronic and online games, an increase of 20.6 percent from the same time a year earlier, according to a state-run trade organization."
Of course, the majority of that market segment is in the mobile and PC space. It’s not clear the arrival of consoles — even the latest devices like the Xbox One — will change the status quo much.
And as a CNBC analyst points out, console hardware is only part of the story — and a slim portion of the margins.
"It's far more about the sales of the video games. In China, piracy is such a massive issue that it kind of outweighs any potential sales that they could get."
That doesn't look like it will dissuade console makers much. Microsoft and Sony have indicated they’re interested in moving into the new market, and Nintendo says it’s evaluating its options for the Free Trade Zone.