For the past 14 years, Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have been unable to legally sell their game consoles within China’s borders, but as of this week, that ban has been temporarily lifted. Reuters reports that although the suspension of the ban was announced late last year, it has taken several months for the government to officially lift the ban. Of course, this development is only the first step in the process — game companies are now tasked with solving the very difficult problem of infiltrating a market that has grown accustomed to rampant piracy and an overwhelming shift to PC and mobile gaming.
“If Sony and Microsoft want to expand in China they need to think of changing their business model, and study the success of Internet gaming market providers where games are free but they charge money from operating games,” said Gartner research director Roger Sheng.
China originally banned foreign game consoles in 2000, citing violent video games and their influence on children as the primary cause. China is obviously an enormous potential market for the Wii U, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but just as Chinese gamers will have to adjust to the availability of new consoles for the first time in over a decade, the game companies will need to take their time to come up with a business model.
Spokespersons for Nintendo and Sony had nothing specific to say regarding future availability in China, just that they are both looking for a way to enter the market. Microsoft “formed a joint-venture with China’s BesTV New Media Co Ltd” last September, which might be the company’s stepping stone into console sales in China. There is no word yet on how long the suspension will last.