China could end 12-year game console ban

Government source reportedly says long-standing policy is under review

Chinese authorities are said to be reviewing a 12-year ban on game consoles in the country.

Seven Chinese ministries collectively banned the manufacture, sale and import of game consoles in 2000 due to fears over their potentially harmful impact on youth development, but an unnamed government source reportedly told China Daily that the law could be changed.

"We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market," they said. "However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it.”

It has been speculated that, having already sensed a softening of the government's attitude towards game consoles, some of the markets key players are readying themselves for a rapid response to any policy change. Last June Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) set up a training, research and development arm in South China, and in November PS3 received a quality certification from a Chinese safety standards body. While the PlayStation firm wouldn’t comment directly on today’s report, SCE spokeswoman Yoshiko Uchiyama told Sky: "Our stance towards business in China has not changed. Of course, we acknowledge China as a promising market for our business, and we are always considering and preparing business opportunities and possibilities (in the country)."

Microsoft introduced Kinect to the Chinese mainland in October, although the product is only currently being used for non-gaming purposes such as medical treatment and education. However, Zhang Yaqin, chairman of the Microsoft Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group, has said the company hopes to launch Xbox in China “as soon as possible".

Shares in Sony and Nintendo climbed following the publication of the China Daily report. According to Bloomberg, the PlayStation firm’s shares jumped 9.1 per cent in Tokyo trading to 1,407 yen, the highest since April 2012, while the Wii U maker’s rose 3.4 per cent to 9,630 yen in Osaka, the highest since December 7.

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