After about 15 years, China has finally lifted its ban on videogame consoles and the likes of Sony and Microsoft are now going to be eagerly looking into ways that they can take advantage of this burgeoning new market. After all, with a population of more than 1.3 billion people, it’s a market that comprises of almost a fifth of the entire world’s population. Couple that with the fact that the market has never reached the levels of saturation that traditional gaming markets have and there is a lot of potential there.
The question now, is whether or not that potential will every actually be realised. Are videogames something that the Chinese market has been crying out for, or will they just simply slide under the radar and become nothing more than a novelty in a market that hasn’t seen some of the most revolutionary advances in console design?
Why Did The Ban Happen?
Fifteen years may not sound like an awful long time, but in that period gaming has gone from the early PlayStation 2 era into the behemoths that we have today. The Chinese markets in particularly were likely still just getting around to seeing some of the best that the original PlayStation and its contemporaries have to offer before the entire thing was shut down.
It all came down to the children. The Chinese Ministry of Culture decided that videogames would have a detrimental effect on the youth of the country, with claims that physical and mental wellbeing would be affected.
It’s all a load of nonsense of course, but it’s a story the government of the country were happy to stick to until a couple of years back, when selling consoles was allowed in Shanghai’s “free trade zone” a couple of years back. It was a start but nothing to write home about.
The Ban is Lifted
However, that small liberty opened up the possibility of bringing videogames back to the wider Chinese audience, and now the floodgates are officially open. The big three will all be vying for supremacy, which should be interesting to watch given Microsoft’s struggles in the Eastern market and the historical differences between Japan and China possibly having a part to play in adoption of Japanese-built consoles.
Simply put, expect it to be a free-for-all. China didn’t ban videogames entirely during that period, which means that PC and mobile gaming are currently dominant in the market. Quite what benefits the average mobile game offers that make it ok to play is anybody’s guess, but it still means that there is going to have to be a culture shift in the nation’s gaming habits if consoles are to be successful.
Is It The Next Big Thing?
The likelihood is that the market for consoles in China may not be quite as big as it seems to be. For one, we have the culture shift issue that may lead to people sticking with the gaming they know, rather than the gaming they don’t.
However, there is also the possibility that the Chinese Government may place limitations on the types of games that can be sold in the country. If consoles aren’t able to host their triple-A titles, there is every chance that they will falter. It’s certainly going to be interesting to watch, but whether or not it’s the next big thing remains to be seen.
Lee Price is a freelance writer and general miscreant who enjoys video games, movies and making dreary situations better by adding copious amounts of alcohol. Follow him on Twitter @Mr_Lee2112 to read his random musings.