China lifts censorship of game consoles
The black market has many connotations: illegal drug sales, organ trading, human trafficking — all very horrible — but the most surprising of these illegal trades is actually the sale of dedicated video game consoles in China. At least, it would continue to be if it were not for China’s complete lift of the console ban on July 27.
Back in 2000, China banned the sale and ownership of major, at-home video game consoles for many cultural reasons. China is historically a communist state, and as such, the culture is, from a western perspective, very reserved and narrow-minded in its laws and beliefs. The ban stemmed from China’s ideas of media censorship, and the Ministry of Culture, at the time, believed that the ban on video game consoles “was the best way to protect Chinese youth from wasting their minds on video games, after a parental outcry,” Lisa Hanson from market researcher Niko Partners explained to Kotaku.
Beliefs had a huge part to play in this ban, as China’s censorship reaches all branches of media. Things related to porn, politics, social movements and more are censored from TV, books, news and even instant messaging. This is simply because the government, for a very long time, felt that video games in particular could be a threat to security, unity, social order, state secrets and infringe personal rights, amongst other things. Any video games that are perceived to be in these violations are strictly banned from importation in the country.
Kotaku’s article continues to explain that, for a long time, the reaction to the ban was plug-and-play consoles that weren’t truly considered to be dedicated gaming consoles. These were the kinds of consoles that could plug directly into TV sets and be used to play ported games from franchises like “Legend of Zelda,” “Mario” and more. This also helped prevent piracy, which is apparently a huge problem in the country.
However, the ban didn’t stop the buying and selling of video game consoles. Like everything in life, there’s always a loophole. For China, it was the black market, or in this case, the gray market. Here, Chinese gamers could buy and sell video game consoles and games cheaply and have them modified.
But, in 2014, this ban on consoles was partially relieved. Neoseeker reports that the ban was lifted in an 11-mile radius known as Shanghai’s free trade zone. Within this zone, any consoles, like the PS4 and Xbox One, produced could be sold legally within the country. Any consoles manufactured outside of this zone were considered illegal.
Now, the entire ban has been lifted. All video game consoles are now able to be freely throughout the country, and it’s sure to be a positive for the industry. 1.4 billion people have yet to be reached!