China lifts ban on foreign consoles but with strict criteria

So after almost 14 years, China has finally lifted the ban on the sale of foreign consoles in their homeland. This decision certainly affects the console makers as they can not ignore such a market and the huge population would be too great of a reward to ignore. Microsoft and Sony have already announced that they plan to bring their consoles to China, so there is another land for the console giants to fight.

So consoles are now legal in China but what about the games? Well, the answer to that question is a “yes, the ban is also lifted from them” but that only represents only half the story.

According to a Chinese site which published the rules (translated in english by GamesInAsia ) it would be mandatory for the games to comply with some strict rules if they are to be approved for sale in Chine. It is not confirmed if the local, or national Ministry of culture would have the task to review the submitted games.

According to the guidelines, the games should have a “Simplified Chinese” version and not the “Traditional Chinese”. Besides the language barrier, the games MUST NOT depict any of the following:

  • Gambling-related content or game features
  • Anything that violates China’s constitution
  • Anything that threatens China’s national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.
  • Anything that harms the nation’s reputation, security, or interests.
  • Anything that instigates racial/ethnic hatred, or harms ethnic traditions and cultures.
  • Anything that violates China’s policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions.
  • Anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use, violence, or gambling.
  • Anything that harms public ethics or China’s culture and traditions.
  • Anything that insults, slanders, or violates the rights of others.
  • Other content that violates the law

The publisher would be notified within 20 days if the game has been approved or not. If the latter, they would be notified of the reasons behind the rejection. The same process would apply for DLC content.

GTA V online heists

This list is pretty strict and it isn’t sure to what extent the rules would be adhered to.  Even if half the rules are followed, I’m sure games such as GTA, Battlefield etc would fail the requirements several times and in the end, the developer might just cross China off their list. But there is nothing to worry about, as grey imports and blackmarkets exist in China (like they do everywhere, don’t they?) and the person can use that route to fulfill his desire for all the blood, gore and violence. Overall, this is certainly a positive news for China and the developers as it opens a new market for their products!

Ali Moin

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