China reviewing 13-year games console ban, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony poised

Reports have emerged that the Chinese government is considering lifting a ban it imposed on videogames consoles more than a decade ago. In 2000, authorities made illegal the sale and import of games machines because of the potential harm to the physical and mental development of the young.

China is now reconsidering that stance, according to a government source reported in the China Daily.

Speaking to the newspaper, the source says recent research suggests the government could allow games consoles to return to Chinese stores, but the process may be complicated because seven ministries were involved in bringing about the original ban.

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

There are also claims from China that Sony Computer Entertainment and Microsoft may have anticipated a lifting of the ban. SCE has recently set up a branch in the Guangdong province in south China, which it uses for "training, research and development". Microsoft introduced its Kinect motion controller to the country at the end of the year, albeit for medical and educational purposes.

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

Reuters has spoken to China's Ministry of Culture about the reported lifting of the ban, but an official at the ministry's cultural market department, identified only as "Bai", denied the report.

Pic: (cc) Andrew-LGP