China is finally scrapping its 15-year ban on video game consoles. According to a statement from the country's Ministry of Culture, companies like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft — among others — will now be allowed to manufacture and sell video game consoles anywhere in the country. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news earlier today.
Game consoles were first banned in 2000 due to fears that the devices — and the 3D worlds produced by them — had a negative effect on the mental and physical development of children. Last year, China eased those restrictions by letting game console-makers operate in an experimental 11-square-mile area in Shanghai, known as the free trade zone.
China has a choice to make: PS4 or Xbox One
But even those relaxed restrictions proved to be a major hurdle to console makers, which had to enter into contracts to build new manufacturing facilities in the area. In addition, they had to secure approval for console sales from regulators, and each and every console sold had to be individually inspected.
Those restrictions have now been tossed entirely, opening up a massive new market for game consoles. That said, 15 years of console-free life in China (not counting black market sales) has pushed gamers to PC, mobile, and web titles. The big three might find it quite a struggle to warm consumers up to the idea of once again putting a game console under their TVs.