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China expected to end ban on video game consoles

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(Credit: CNET)

By Lance Whitney, CNET

Companies like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft may soon be able to sell their game consoles in China -- though there are a couple of catches.

The Chinese government is expected to terminate its 13-year-old ban on the sale of game consoles, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday. Lifting the ban is part of an overall strategy to create a "Shanghai free trade zone" in order to open up the Chinese economy to other countries, the Post said.

However, console makers who want to do business in China must agree to certain rules, sources told the Post. The companies must manufacture their products for Chinese consumers in the new free trade zone. They must also get approval for their games from "culture-related authorities" in China.

"They still need approval from the culture ministry and other relevant government bodies for their products, which I think is reasonable, because the government wants to make sure the content of your games is not too violent or politically sensitive for young people," a source told the Post.

Game consoles and games are already available in China through the black market.

Authorities in Beijing reportedly were reviewing the sales ban this past January, according to the China Daily. An anonymous source said that since the ban was issued through seven different ministries, all seven would have to agree to lift it.

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