China to Allow Sales of Locally Made Game Consoles, SCMP Says

China may end a 13-year ban on the sale of video-game consoles on the condition that they’re made in Shanghai’s new free-trade zone, the South China Morning Post said.

Foreign companies including Nintendo Co. (7974) and Sony Corp. (6758) will still need approval from the culture ministry and relevant government agencies, the newspaper reported, citing unidentified people who saw government documents.

Nintendo, the world’s biggest video-game console maker, reversed an earlier drop in Osaka trading after the report. China banned the sale of consoles in June 2000 amid concern that unhealthy and violent game content had the potential to harm young people, the newspaper said.

Some consoles are available in China through black-market channels. Touchscreen computers and smartphones, such as Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPad and iPhone, are available legally as they’re not considered gaming products.

“We see China as an attractive market, and we have always been considering possible business development,” Satoshi Nakajima, a spokesman at Tokyo-based Sony’s game unit, said by phone today.

Sony said in November it received a safety certificate for its PlayStation 3 home console from the China Quality Certification Centre. The company said at the time it has no plans to sell the machine in the country.

Yasuhiro Minagawa, a spokesman at Kyoto, Japan-based Nintendo, declined to comment.

“If a drastic change is made, there will be some opportunities for us,” Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said in January, after China Daily reported that China may end the ban. “We have been preparing for that.”

Shares of Nintendo rose 0.4 percent to 12,250 yen at the close of trade. The stock earlier fell as much as 1.8 percent. Sony, the maker of the PlayStation console, fell 0.7 percent to 2,187 yen in Tokyo.

To contact the reporters on this story: Naoko Fujimura in Tokyo at nfujimura@bloomberg.net; Janet Ong in Taipei at jong3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Robert Fenner at rfenner@bloomberg.net

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