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Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo can finally start making headway in sales in mainland China thanks to a lift on a ban that was put in place back in 2000 that prevented the big three from being able to sell their consoles in the mainland Republic of China.
The news comes courtesy of Games in Asia where they picked up the news from Techweb. The lift allows the console manufacturers to sell their consoles to the mainland people of China, not just Hong Kong.
As noted in the article...
“The leap from a government statement to actually getting consoles on the ground is a big one, and these rules are still in flux. The official memo says the regulations are “provisional,” so we won’t be sure consoles are coming to China until the moment we see them on store shelves.”
This could make a huge impact on the global sales of all three companies and boost revenue share from the games divisions (for Microsoft and Sony) to unprecedented heights. That's assuming the “provisional” lift stays in place long enough for them to make good on the sales opportunity.
And while this is good news for console makers, it still doesn't mean quite the same thing for publishers and developers. As noted in the article, the Chinese government will still need to oversee and review any software material made available through the Shanghai free trade zone. This means that all the regular outings from Ubisoft and Activision, such as Assassin's Creed or Call of Duty will need to undergo an extensive review process from the “cultural authorities” before the people are allowed to consume the product. I mean, they can't have their kids exposed to all that 'Muricanism now can they?
There's nothing definitive about what's going to happen next until the consoles one day arrive in the free trade zone. Also, the consoles won't do much good on the Chinese market unless they have software to follow. I'm mostly curious about adaptive methodologies that the software publishers will utilize for their titles. Games that may have some measures of content the Chinese government deems inappropriate – will they chuck the gold master disc and rewrite certain scenes, characters, or material assets to fit in line with China's rulset? Or will the game just fail to release in that territory? I mean, right off the bat, there is already a massive amount of Chinese gamers to cater to, so it's not like it's an ignorable market.
That's also not to mention that the Chinese games market just keeps growing and growing and growing and growing. It now rivals the North American retail market, and as mentioned, the Chinese don't have mainland home consoles or console software to buy.
This also raises the other obvious question: will publishers forfeit catering content to the current markets in order to potentially skyrocket stock value by leaning their software offerings closer to the Chinese market? As ridiculous as it might seem, let's not forget a lot of publishers dabbling into the foray of mobile gaming in an attempt to chase the billion or so casual gamers.
Interesting times indeed.