China considers lifting console ban

China considers lifting console ban
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

January 28th 2013 at 12:56PM

But reports say the Chinese government is not showing its cards just yet

China is considering lifting a ban on games consoles that has existed for more than 12 years, according to reports by China Daily and Reuters.

The China Daily newspaper quoted an anonymous source from the Ministry of Culture, who said the console ban was under examination: “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. However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it.”

However, typical of the elusive Chinese government, disagreement has surfaced. A ministry official contacted by Reuters, who identified himself only as Bai, denied the report, saying: “The ministry is not considering lifting the ban.”

Speculation that the ban would be lifted prompted Nintendo and Sony’s shares to climb, with Nintendo adding more than 3.5 per cent on the Nikkei index and Sony trading eight per cent higher, according to Reuters.

The Chinese government enforced the games console ban in 2000. The reason, it claimed, was to protected children’s mental and physical wellbeing.

Even with dedicated games consoles outlawed, mobile and online games are hugely popular in China, but games makers have to ensure that their games fit strict government regulations or risk their titles being banned.

In China, games are required to include anti-addiction measures, which monitor how long a player has been playing and warns them to take breaks for health reasons. They are also required to confirm their identity and age by using their real name and an ID number that is cross-referenced against a government database.

Health and safety for interactive entertainment and citizen’s access to it in China has long been an issue in the nation, with incidents of death linked to continuous video games playing reported since 2005. The most recent incident happen on February 2011, when a Chinese man reportedly died after spending three days playing an online game at an internet cafe in Beijing.

Reuters points out that the PS3 received a quality certification from a Chinese safety standards body, which led to speculation that the government was planning to lift the ban. Another sign of a possible policy shift was that Chinese electronics maker Lenovo was able to launch the Eedoo CT510, a motion-sensing device similar to Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral last year.