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China Lifts Video Game Ban: Free Trade Zone Now Open to Last-Gen Consoles

China Lifts Video Game Ban: Free Trade Zone Now Open to Last-Gen Consoles

China's free trade zone in Shanghai is now open to sell video games and consoles after years of being banned, and now gaming companies have a whole new market to tap into.

A customer looks at a video game at Best Buy during Black Friday in San Francisco, California November 23, 2012. |

After 14 years of no legal video games and consoles, the ban was lifted last September. Most notably with the lift of the ban, foreign companies will be able to send their products into the country along with Chinese developers, reported Polygon.

It initially took place in 2000, and was enforced for fears video games would negatively affect children.

Consoles and games will be allowed as long as they are approved by China's Ministry of Culture, and sales will be allowed across the country as long as production and sales operations are established in the free trade zone.

According to previous reports, games still made their way across the country via small stores and such, but there was no major distribution or marketing of the consoles throughout the country. The Black Market was also a hub for secret gamers as well.

The lift of the ban adds an interesting dynamic to the video game race between Xbox One, PS4, and the Wii U. The potential for the franchise to now reach hundreds of millions of former and first-time users who will be eager to purchase what was once banned is huge.

Early reports indicate China will take a step backward and first allow Xbox 360 and PS3 games into the market before tackling the next-gen consoles.

One more problem is China's censorship of the Internet. So much gaming takes place online these days, how will this factor in?

"And what of the internet? The Great Firewall of China is still up and running and it's stronger than ever before. China's Internet infrastructure isn't that great-will there be online components to the games? Will China require special servers and special versions which will cost game developers, publishers, and consequently, consumers more money?" said Eric Jou, a video game reporter for Kotaku who lives in China and is front and center on the talks.

Polygon reported game developer The9Ltd. is working on a native Chinese console. The early working name is the Fun Box.

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