“We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market,” an unnamed source told China Daily. The ban was enacted in 2000 by the Chinese government out of concern for the well-being of the youth of China. In all, seven Chinese ministries forbid the sale of the hardware.
Console makers have been making inroads into the Chinese market for the past few years. Both Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have opened operations in mainland China in the last few years. Microsoft already is selling its popular Kinect hardware in the country, but not for use in gaming.
The ban has led to a large underground market for pirated and smuggled consoles. One Beijing retailer reported selling as many as 10 smuggled systems per day by 2006.
There still are several hurdles to lifting the ban, including getting the approval of all seven disapproving ministries.