In 2000, the country prohibited the sale and distribution of these games-only (but not really, anymore) machines, the thinking being that this was the best way that parents could prevent their kids "wasting their minds" on video games.
All of this is was funny when you consider not only the amazing number of Chinese gamers plugging into online multiplayer titles via their PCs—the country can claim the largest online user base of anywhere in the world—but also that every home system of the previous console generation, the Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, was manufactured in China.
But none of that matters now as the Chinese government has completed a U-turn that began in 2014 when it provisionally allowed its citizens to import consoles from overseas (albeit for eye-watering prices) for sale within the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone. As of right now, the good people of Beijing, Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Tianjin—or anywhere else in the country—can freely purchase the domestically-made games console of their choice, for rather less than the cost of a black-market PS4.
The lifting of the ban will go a great way to growing China's already staggering gaming market value, which is estimated to reach over $22 billion this year. Chinese gamers won't be able to play everything that their Western peers can, though, as titles will be assessed for their content on a case-by-case basis, with the government certain to censor a great many releases.
Sony and Microsoft are already gearing up for a fresh Chinese market push, and have confirmed the intent to upscale operations in the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone and beyond. Nintendo, meanwhile, is remaining quiet on its plans.
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