Report Suggests China May Lift Console Gaming Ban

from the no-more-defaming-gaming dept

Due to recent events and blame-shifting attempts by certain lobbying groups, video games are once again in the crosshairs here in America. It's unclear to me as of yet whether or not this will amount to a heavy dose of grandstanding noise and then die off, or if any of the crackpot proposals surrounding games will actually be enacted. The studies linking gaming with all manner of negative impacts are, at best, all over the place. Proponents of legislation will often claim that since there is no evidence that games don't harm youths, a proactive approach is the sensible one. Those on my side of the debate, i.e. people that prefer logic to grandstanding, prefer to suggest that it is incumbent upon those affirming a stance to provide evidence for it, as opposed to asking others to disprove a link that likely doesn't exist. In any case, whether you think legislation against games is warranted or not, one needs only to look to China's mainland to see what effect such legislation might have.

That's because China banned console gaming a decade ago. Due to a fear of harming the physical and mental growth of Chinese children, the government banned the manufacture, sale or import of all gaming consoles. The results are about what you'd expect, which is to say that there are all kinds of gaming consoles in the Chinese market, except they're either smuggled in or they're simply called something else in marketing material to get around the ban.
Beijing Eedoo successfully launched a multimedia entertainment console in the mainland market in April last year. But the company has changed the product name several times in order to avoid sensitive issues.
Jack Luo, chief executive officer of Beijing Eedoo, insisted his company is selling a "sports and entertainment machine", rather than a game console, to Chinese families.
That's certainly one laughably transparent way to do it, I suppose. The other is to sell pirated games along with smuggled systems, which a select number of Chinese businesses do. With so little competition, the margins are extreme. They love the ban on consoles. Unfortunately for those engaged in selling these black market consoles, the Chinese government appears to be waking up to the uselessness of their law and is said to be considering lifting the ban entirely.
Rumors have circulated in the Chinese media that some international companies have already sensed the government's changing attitude. They hope to figure out the Chinese authorities' intentions so they can make a rapid response, analysts said.
 
Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), a subsidiary responsible for Sony's PlayStation business, set up a branch in South China's Guangdong province in June last year. The Guangdong branch will conduct training and research and development work for Sony.
 
Microsoft introduced its Kinect, a controller-free game console, to the Chinese mainland in October last year. However, Zhang Yaqin, chairman of Microsoft Corp's Asia-Pacific Research and Development Group, said Kinect is not used for games in China but for other purposes, such as medical treatment and education.
This, of course, would be a boon to console-makers around the world, providing them a massive market and freeing them from pretending their console devices are chiefly a medical or educational device. More importantly, there's a lesson here for Americans. Laws limiting speech and entertainment that go against the wishes of the public not only don't work, they encourage illegal profiteering of those same laws. If a totalitarian regime like China can figure this out, I'd like to think our grandstanding legislators can as well.

 



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 1:19am

    I don't see why the Chinese government is so deadset against gaming. Hell, half their citizens probably make a solid income from gold farming.

    On a more tragic note, though, they've also consistently electrocuted teenagers for alleged "Internet addiction", to the point that they kick the bucket - and the overbearing parents admit to themselves that the kids probably didn't play that much. (True story from Readers' Digest Asia. Ironically, the same pair of parents realised that without their kid to access his computer, they can't view the only photos they have of him. So they ended up keeping his computer as a keepsake.)

    Oh, China. You're so, so silly.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 1:27am

    No! Don't! It will corrupt the child PC gamers!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 2:06am

    Re:

    You spelled "depressing" wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Jay (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 2:14am

    We learned this lesson before...

    Bank inthe 1980s, we had the Gaming Crash. Atari and Coleco had worn out games with side upgrades of their respective systems. Nintendo, a card company, decided to enter the gaming market in the same indirect manner. Armed with Gunpei Yokoi, a tinkerer and mainly the Nikola Tesla of games, and smart sense, they marketed their game console as an entertainment system. The key here is that they sold a separate toy to kids which was the ROB system to entice kids to play. They soon created a gaming market that far exceeds what Atari and Coleco ever did.

    The point of this story is that game bans just don't work. Trying to tell the entire nation what their social values should be is destined to fail. Let's hope that as gaming matures into an accepted medium of entertainment, it also finds its stride in dealing with authoritarian overreach.

     

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  5.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 2:49am

    What would General Mao have done had the board game, Go, had been banned? Legend has it he used to have the officers reporting to him play it because it is a highly intelligent and strategic game.

    Video games can also be very strategic so why ban one and not the other?

     

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  6.  
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    Rekrul, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:17am

    Re: We learned this lesson before...

    Bank inthe 1980s, we had the Gaming Crash. Atari and Coleco had worn out games with side upgrades of their respective systems.

    Actually, the main cause of the video game crash was the flood of lousy games (no, not just E.T.). Games were relatively expensive at around $30 each and with no internet, gamers had to rely on instinct or hope to find a review in a magazine. Unfortunately, with so many games being released, it was hard to tell the gold from the crap. People stopped buying full-priced games because they were afraid of getting ripped off, and prices started to drop.

    That's why Nintendo instituted a strict policy that governed who could make games for their system, how many they could make per year and what the content could be.

    The key here is that they sold a separate toy to kids which was the ROB system to entice kids to play.

    Which was the most useless part of the entire system and rarely worked the way it was supposed to.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Jay (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:26am

    Re: Re: We learned this lesson before...

    " That's why Nintendo instituted a strict policy that governed who could make games for their system, how many they could make per year and what the content could be."

    But that licensing is still quite lucrative. All three systems charge a fee to put games on their systems. When nintendo was the big digg, the fee was higher. Even now, they tend to be on the expensive side (which is why more people like computer gaming now, more diversity and less start up costs). That is the key business model nowadays.

    " Which was the most useless part of the entire system and rarely worked the way it was supposed to."

    Too true... I hated that damn thing but you have to admit that it was a great way to advertise to kids that this was a toy and not a game system.

    The kids figured it out immediately. The parents just ignored it as they watched their soap operas.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    Richard (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:31am

    Re:

    I don't see why the Chinese government is so deadset against gaming. Hell, half their citizens probably make a solid income from gold farming.

    Note the sude effect - which is to exclude foriegn competitors from the Chinese market. Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo can't easily wrap up their consoles as something else when they are sold as game consoles throughout the rest of the world. A Chinese manufacturer, on the other hand can engineer its product and marketing around the laws.

    This move probably indicates that the Chinese government now believes that its games industry is strong enough to withstand some competition!

     

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  9.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 3:59am

    Re: We learned this lesson before...

    That hasn't stopped them from trying? See: copyright and related lawsuits.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 4:44am

    Re:

    What would have happened if Mao was told that there existed digital versions of Go?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Power Cords and Cables, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 5:35am

    Re

    If any company launches their product then they have to invest a lot of money in the marketing of that product. If company had changed product name several times then they would might have to bear a lot of loss.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 5:51am

    Or maybe lifting the ban has nothing to do with realizing it's a failure. Maybe it's to deal with the power of social networks at raising anger against China's corrupt regime, by making them a nation of gaming addicts who don't have time to fight a corrupt government!

    The EVILS of VIDEO GAMES strikes AGAIN!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    Mason Wheeler, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Can we please get the details right?

    Microsoft introduced its Kinect, a controller-free game console, to the Chinese mainland in October last year.


    A controller-free game console? You'd think if someone was going to report on things like this, they'd at least bother to do enough research to describe things accurately. The Kinect is not a controller-free game console, it's a hands-free controller for the XBox 360 console, that barely works if your living room isn't approximately the size of an aircraft hangar.

     

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  14.  
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    Yakko Warner (profile), Feb 1st, 2013 @ 8:41am

    It's not so much a ban....

    It isn't exactly an outright "ban". Engadget had a write-up with a few more details.

    http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/30/china-console-ban/

    Severely limited, sure, and a lot of games sold world-wide were literally banned for sale in China, but there *are* video game consoles that are sold there legally.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 1st, 2013 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re:

    Disagree, they don't realize that their consoles would get slaughtered by the big three just yet.

    I expect what will happen is that the console ban will get lifted, but only for consoles created by Chinese businesses. Resulting in the big three having to create shell companies or simply continue to ignore China.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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