The 13-year ban on consoles is finally coming to an end in China, thanks to the recently established free trade zone in Shanghai.

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China’s State Council published a set of regulations that govern how international vendors conduct sales and function in the free trade zone. It states that international manufacturers can undertake production and sales of game consoles in this “experimental” free trade zone, with the Ministry of Culture acting as the governing body for all console and other hardware approval.

A statement from Microsoft says that it already signed a new joint venture with Chinese media conglomerate BesTV to launch the E-Home Entertainment Development undertaking, which will see the brand develop services related to gaming. It will also be able to sell its Xbox line of consoles in the country through this venture, and that gives it a significant advantage over the likes of Sony and Nintendo, as neither of these company’s consoles can be officially sold in-country yet.

Even though console ban has been in effect for the last 13 years, determined gamers could still get access to consoles from online marketplaces such as Taobao, or at some gaming cafes. Making these consoles available from legitimate sources will serve to curtail such activity.

As the Chinese market is inundated with freemium titles major console manufacturers have to rethink their strategy in the country. While most users will buy a Xbox or PlayStation console, market research shows that they would be unwilling to buy games that cost over $60 — as average salaries are a fraction of what they are in the West.  Therefore, manufacturers like Microsoft have to look at offering free to play games on their consoles.  The free to play model in China brings in billion dollar revenues on a quarterly basis from gamers on PCs and mobile devices.

Source: Wall Street Journal