China technically lifted its longstanding ban on game consoles last year, but only for companies that registered in the Shanghai free trade zone. Needless to say, that put a damper on sales in the world's most populous country. However, the gloves just came off -- China's Ministry of Culture has approved the manufacture and sale of consoles anywhere in the nation. Companies like Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony no longer have to hold back (or rely on black market sales) when doing business. They'll still have to grapple with heavy censorship of the games themselves, but that beats a lack of official options.
The question is whether or not these set-tops will take off. Thanks in part to the console ban, China's gaming culture revolves around PCs and (more recently) smartphones. It may be tough to convince locals that an Xbox One at home beats an internet cafe full of friends, especially when game systems are relatively expensive (China's nominal GDP per capita is just over $8,100). You're still likely to see more Chinese console gamers, but there's no guarantee that they'll embrace the concept with the same gusto you see in Europe or North America.
[Image credit: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images]