Game console manufacturers will soon be able to sell their hardware on the Chinese mainland, after 13 years of a console ban in the country, according to reports.
Video game consoles have been banned in China since 2000, following concerns from parents that such hardware was harming the physical and mental development of children.
However, a report earlier this week from South China Morning Post claimed
that manufacturers would soon be given the option to sell consoles in China. Today, China Daily says
it has confirmed the previous report with a couple of Ministry of Culture sources.
While the ban implemented in 2000 won't be fully lifted, companies like Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo will soon be able to apply to manufacture and sell game consoles through Shanghai's new free trade zone.
By agreeing to register with the new free trade zone initiative and build products within the region, this will allow foreign companies to promote and sell their products in China.
However, there's another hurdle to overcome for video game developers and publishers, according to the reports. Foreign companies must gain approval from the various related regulators before a game can be sold in China, as the government wants to make sure that content isn't too violent or politicially sensitive.
"The detailed information (on foreign game console companies' entry into China) is incorporated in the policy package for Shanghai's free trade zone," an official allegedly told China Daily.
Spokespeople for both Sony and Microsoft said that they were looking into the possibility of enabling the release of consoles, including the upcoming next-gen consoles, in China.
However, in real terms, game consoles and handhelds are available - alongside a wide variety of mainly pirated games - all over China at present, and it's unclear that official 'legality' will make any difference on a day to day basis.