China to Allow Game Console Sales Nationwide After Shanghai Test

China will permit the manufacture and sale of game consoles nationwide, after a trial program in Shanghai’s free-trade zone ended a 14-year ban last January.

Local governments must draft detailed rules to allow the business and submit them to Ministry of Commerce by Saturday, according to a statement from the State Council posted on the central government’s website Thursday. The cabinet also let policies for some customs procedures and foreign-exchange settlement be adopted outside of the zone, according to the document, which was dated Dec. 21.

Foreign game console makers such as Microsoft Corp., Sony Corp. and Nintendo Co., stand to benefit from increased access to what PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP estimated was a $10 billion video game industry in the world’s second-largest economy. Microsoft and Sony both formed ventures in the free-trade zone to make consoles.

China’s culture ministry must approve game content before the devices can be sold under zone rules. Game consoles were originally banned in 2000 to protect youths from a perceived corrupting influence.

Microsoft began sales of its Xbox One console in China in September, the first foreign vendor to enter the market. Government controls on content meant the device initially went on sale with only 10 titles available.

Sony indefinitely postponed the planned Jan. 11 introduction of its PlayStation 4 console in China after the government asked for adjustments. The company’s video game unit needs time to make the required changes Kaede Bun, a spokeswoman for Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., said earlier this month, without elaborating on the changes.

Chinese vendors have also entered the market with local products. ZTE Corp., China’s second-biggest maker of phone-network equipment, in March announced a venture with online game developer The9 Ltd. to make a gaming console called the Fun Box. TCL Multimedia Technology Holdings Ltd. in April announced the T2 game player.

— With assistance by Jing Jin, Edmond Lococo, and Qi Ding

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