China lifts 15-year ban on game consoles

For the past 15 years, it has been illegal to sell or purchase game consoles in China, which has effectively turned the market into a PC-dominated space, with the exception of the black market for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U sales that take place behind closed doors.

In a statement from China’s Ministry of Culture, the country will now allow foreign and domestic companies to both manufacture and sell the game consoles anywhere in the country.

The ban was originally put in place in 2000 over concerns of the mental health and well being of children, specifically relating to their maturity and development.

Since early 2014, companies have been allowed to produce and sell foreign gaming consoles in the country, but only in Shanghai’s free trade zone. This zone is a tiny portion of the country–only 120 square kilometres–but serves as a test bed for social and economic reform such as the lifting of this ban.

The effects of the ban will likely be felt for years, if not longer, as it will take quite a while for a country based heavily in the PC space to move to a new way of playing games.


Xbox One and Playstation 4 both became available in China earlier this year (exclusively in the Shanghai free trade zone, of course), both having been met with poor sales due to a lack of games and interest in the foreign consoles.