China will lift a ban on making and selling videogame consoles in the country, paving the way for foreign companies like Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. to expand in one of the world's largest videogame markets.
New rules will apply to foreign and domestic console makers, enabling them to manufacture and sell anywhere in the country, according to a statement from the Ministry of Culture released earlier this week. Previously, regulators limited foreign console makers, such as Sony and Nintendo Co., to operate only in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, which stifled sales and potential growth.
The move opens the door to a valuable market of videogamers who have turned to computer and mobile videogames because of limited access to consoles like Microsoft's Xbox, Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii.
"This is great news for us," a Sony Computer Entertainment spokeswoman said, adding that the company remains committed to the console business in China.
Gaming companies have long had their eyes on the Chinese market but have faced restrictions since 2000, when Chinese regulators enacted a console ban to prevent what they said were potential adverse effects on China's youth.
China's gaming market, which includes sales of mobile video games and consoles, is estimated to be worth $22.2 billion this year, up 23% from a year earlier, according to gaming research firm Newzoo BV.