Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony can now manufacture consoles for the Chinese market, but will consumers care when the PC scene currently runs on games that are available for free or next to nothing?
The China State Council has lifted a 14-year-old ban on the sale of foreign game consoles, allowing government-approved, foreign-invested enterprises to manufacture within the 29km2 Free Trade Zone and then sell domestically, according to a report from Reuters.
Nintendo had already got around the ban with the Chinese iQue brand, cramming a 1996 Nintendo 64 home console into a single control pad for the 2003 iQue Player, and rebranding 2012's Nintendo 3DS XL as the iQue 3DS XL later that year.
But Sony and Microsoft are used to selling their consoles at a loss and recouping the difference on games, a dangerous tactic when punters are put off by the high price of official software.
And price may still prove prohibitive for Chinese game fans, even if Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo find a way to get expensive genuine-brand consoles into consumers' hands.
"To purchase a game at 200 or 300 yuan (RM108.45 or RM162.68) is unbearable or unthinkable for a normal player like me," Beijing university student Yang Anqi told the wire service.
Rather, it's PC gaming that has been able to thrive, where the focus on free or low-cost online multiplayer games like Dota, Dota 2, League of Legends, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft provide other avenues for developers to derive income. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2014
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