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China makes strides toward lifting console ban


The Chinese government passed a ban on foreign video game sales 13 years ago but, as of earlier this year, agreed to re-evaluate its stance. While video game consoles could technically bypass the ban established in 2000 – Sony launched the PS2 in Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2004 – through additional language guaranteeing the console isn't "unhealthy," the law has since opposed mass video game console distribution throughout mainland China.

Now China is outlining a plan, which would see a free-trade zone set up in Shanghai, to allow foreign firms to sell consoles and internet-based services, The Wall Street Journal reports. Of course, China is no stranger to video games: Popular games such as FIFA, DOTA 2 and Monster Hunter Online are all offered, albeit through direct Chinese publishing firms. Just last week, Microsoft announced a partnership with Chinese media company BesTV to offer games and related services to the citizens of China.

The common thread is that any foreign company wishing to publish a game in China needs to do so through a Chinese company. These new regulations – the full list of guidelines is forthcoming – could potentially mitigate the need for Chinese companies having to play middle man, and allow foreign companies to directly sell products and services to the Chinese through this free-trade zone. There's even the potential to sell across all of China, though the Ministry of Culture has final approval on each console.

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