China to loosen its console restrictions even more in 2015

Following the launch of the Xbox One and Call of Duty’s debut there, China is loosening its restrictions on game consoles even more, reports Bloomberg, potentially expanding a largely untapped market.

China had banned consoles for manufacture or (legitimate) sale for 14 years, doing away with that policy last January. However, consoles were only allowed for sale in the Shanghai free trade zone. Still, the trial program was worth it enough for Microsoft to bring the Xbox One to China in September, with another 10 games for sale. Reports in October said Microsoft sold 100,000 units on the Xbox One’s first day of sale.

Now, Bloomberg reports, local governments were told to submit draft rules allowing the sale of consoles to the country’s Ministry of Commerce this weekend. The Culture Ministry would have to approve games before they may be sold; the original console ban was ostensibly to shield Chinese children from a corrupting influence of games.

Sony is widely expected to bring the PlayStation 4 to China soon; its original plan was to roll out the console last month, but put that on hold when the Chinese government asked for changes to its planned launch. Nintendo hasn’t commented specifically on plans, if any, for China, beyond a comment from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata that it has plans for “emerging markets” this year.

China also will have its own native-built console, called the Fun Box, by ZTE Corp. Bloomberg notes that analysts estimate the Chinese market to be about $10 billion.