Rumor: China may lift ban on video games

Video game consoles have been banned in China since 2000, but that may soon change.

UNCONFIRMED: China will lift its 13-year ban on video game consoles

Since 2000, manufacturing, selling or importing video game consoles has been illegal in China. But with millions of Chinese citizens either skirting the law or ignoring it completely and piracy of games and consoles sky-high, the country's Ministry of Culture may be looking to lift the ban, according to a report in the state-run China Daily.

All parties must approve

The China Daily quotes an anonymous "source from the Ministry of Culture" who says the possibility of ending the ban depends on an agreement with the parties who originally passed it.

"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," the source is quoted as saying. "However, since the ban was issued by seven ministries more than a decade ago, we will need approval from all parties to lift it."

Video games already played

Despite China banning video games in an attempt to stop "the potential harm to the physical and mental development of the young," millions of Chinese citizens are thought to get around the law by playing computer-based games, using counterfeit consoles, or buying real consoles on the black market. In 2010, Kotaku detailed the bustling Chinese video game industry, which notes that Nintendo has released an altered "plug-n-play" version of its Wii that is legal under the ban, and that numerous other options exist for those determined to play, many of which involve pirated consoles or software.

Markets react to news

Stock prices for Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all shot up when news of the potential ban's lifting broke. A Sony spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company "has always regarded China as a promising market for the game operation and has been studying and preparing for possible business opportunities." Still, many game makers have been reluctant to enter the Chinese market — not because of the ban, but because of the country's piracy problem.

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