The Great Wall of China may be a massive feet of ancient engineering. But one thing the glorious wonder of the world can’t hold back is the incoming invasion from the Pacific. Namely all our awesome games.
China, normally known for its extremely strict governmental policies, especially toward foreign video games, is changing its tune. While Australia is increasing its censorship no video games, China is decreasing their restrictions, allowing foreign manufacturers to begin selling products within the most populous country in Asia. The complex trade agreement was recently loosened last January, with manufacture of consoles finally being allowed, but only in the small Shanghai free trade zone. Microsoft quickly jumped at the deal, and began to sell their Chinese edition of the Xbox One.
With the successes of the program, the Ministry of Commerce is advising local governments to send in legal drafts to allow more widespread ability to manufacture and sell foreign consoles. Microsoft may be ahead of the game, but there have been rumors that Sony is not far behind with its expected launch of the PS4 in China, an event which was held back due to some legal squabbles, which will likely be resolved in the very new future. Nintendo has made no comment on whether they wish to enter the Chinese market at this time, but if Sony is able to successfully introduce itself to a Chinese market, it can only be expected that the equally popular Japanese company responsible for the Wii will follow suit. This market is nothing to sniff at, by the way, as estimates are somewhere around the tune of $10 billion.
To top it all off, China hopes to make itself more competitive in its own market by introducing the Fun Box, a native Chinese console. With its own exclusives on the way, one can only question how a natively produced console in a brand new market will fair. It may be an easy sell, as most games will likely be both natively produced and specifically localized for a Chinese market. It will also be curious to see if the government will somehow bias toward the creation of their own national console.
Although China is rarely mentioned in the west – largely due to the harsh nature of their policies to keep foreign influence out of the country – China is already a huge gaming nation, especially on the PC. Internet cafés are massively popular in the largest cities of China, similarly to South Korea. While The United States has only recently discovered the fun of e-sports, China has been celebrating the time-honored tradition of epic wins for years. MOBAs are exceptionally popular in China, as well as South Korea, led by DOTA 2 – where two Chinese teams, Newbee and Vici Gaming ranked both first and second place, respectively, in 2014’s The International championship match (with Team DK receiving honorable mention in 4th) – as well as League of Legends players and teams from China frequently making waves in the scene. Also notable are the many pro Starcraft II players, such as EHOME. These professional gamers are also consistently some of the best in the world, and their accomplishments in international tournaments are highly regarded back on the China mainland, with Chinese players frequently being treated with the equivalence of rock stars.
All these restrictions on producing and selling consoles in China have always left the Chinese populace out of a variety of games. It’ll be nice to see how things play out as these deals become finalized. That being said, any foreign entrepreneurs from the United States or elsewhere will have to be careful of what they say, as the Chinese government still strictly enforces censorship of games that conflict with the People’s Republic’s view of their own country. Yeah, about those Chinese editions of Battlefield 4… it didn’t go so well.