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China's console ban lift: 'We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air'
China's console ban lift: 'We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air'
January 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose

January 13, 2014 | By Mike Rose
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing

"We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air, but we still need a screen to block the flies and mosquitoes."
- Cai Wu, head of China's Ministry of Culture, explains the thought process behind the lifting of the console ban in China.

The 13-year ban on game consoles in China was lifted last week, and at a press conference in Beijing over the weekend, as attended by Bloomberg, Wu said that his governing body is in charge of drafting the new rules for consoles in the country.

"Things that are hostile to China, or not in conformity with the outlook of China’s government, won’t be allowed," he explained, outlining how there will be strict policies against those games which portray China in a bad light.

Having said that, Wu has previously noted that China should not interfere so much in the development of art forms.

It's worth pointing out that while China's decision to lift the 13-year ban may allow consoles to be officially sold in the country, in practical terms little has changed -- most game consoles and handhelds have long been unofficially available on the Chinese gray market to anyone who knows where to look.

Nevertheless, it's positive news for companies like Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft. Following the ban lifting, Nintendo's shares rose sharply.

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Chris Norstrom
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I'm VERY worried about this. It's great for Chinese players but it means we will be seeing a LOT of games censor/change themselves so they get a piece of the Chinese market. With billions of dollars at stake you know they'll bow to whatever pressure and requirements the government puts on them. It's not going to be like this forever but for the next few decades I see this as exchanging freedom of expression for money. Just reading the stories Chinese tech entrepreneurs have posted makes you wonder how extreme the censorship will be. Many small startups that focus on user generated content (Chinese versions of twitter / facebook) couldn't comply with removing massive amounts of offending content fast enough and were shut down from their ISP by order of the Government. So I wonder how deep surveillance is going to be for online multiplayer matches / chats.

We'll either see the Battlefield series eventually changed/altered or have a separate Chinese version altogether.