Japanese firm Sony may be the first major gaming console maker that will be allowed to operate and sell their ware in China following an approval from Chinese safety standards body. China had banned gaming consoles in the country for years now.
A national ban for video gaming console was put in place since 2000 but the recent approval can be a hint that Chinese authorities may now be easing its policy. The ban was enforced by the Chinese government to supposedly protect its younger generation’s well-being. Some analysts though are pessimistic about the recent development for Sony as the body that gave has no regulatory authority.
Managing partner of Niko Partners, a U.S.-based consultancy group for video games, said: “The Ministry of Culture has the regulatory authority over the console segment and is the sole organization that can revoke the ban.”
Two models of the PlayStation 3 appear to have received approval from China Quality Certification Centre this July, based on the centre’s website. The two models were labeled “computer entertainment system”. All products, including gaming consoles, should comply with the safety standard before Chinese consumers can use them in the country.
Sony also confirmed the certification but did not give any comment about a possible breakthrough in the world’s second largest economy, or if it needs more certificates to sell its consoles in China.
Sony spokesman Mai Hora said that the certification is an indication that the company has decided to open a gaming console market in the country.
“We recognize that China is a promising market so we will continuously study the possibility,” he added.
Representatives from the country’s Ministry of Culture did not also comment further on the issue.
There had been signs recently about China’s softening on its hard-line stance against the gaming industry and game consoles in general.
Local PC maker Lenovo Group had recently launched Eedoo CT510, a device similar to Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox console. Lenovo called its new peripheral an “exercise and entertainment machine”.
While gaming console are not permitted in the country, online gaming as well as mobile gaming are popular forms of entertainment. They are considered significant rivals for Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s Wii consoles.
“It obviously has a huge population, but gamers in China have different consumption habits,” noted Piers Harding-Rolls, a seasoned analyst for HIS Screen Digest based in London.
“A lot of established gamers will use non-dedicated devices they have used over many years,” he said.
Game piracy is also a huge concern for console makers and they need to look for ways to ensure that their income from game software and content are protected, Harding-Rolls said.