China’s state council finally lifted the ban on game console imposed in 2000, allowing foreign-invested companies to produce and sell game consoles in the newly established Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. And consoles, after games are censored and approved by authorities, can be sold in mainland China. Microsoft has already established a joint venture with Chinese media company BesTV last year, planning to introduce Xbox One into the mainland this year.

It is expected it will boost sales of PlayStation, Xbox or Wii. But it’s not that, as many outside China thought, those game consoles were not known or haven’t been available for purchase in mainland China. Chinese users could always buy from sellers on electronics markets, such as the most famous Zhongguancun electronics market in Beijing and Huaqiangbei in Shenzhen, who imported game consoles, legally or not, from overseas. More recently users whose cities don’t have such markets could buy from Taobao online stores. Those sellers, of course, charge higher prices or don’t offer after-sales services.

Yes, just like how users in mainland China bought iPhones before Apple reached deals with Chinese telcos and built its own stores here. It’s true that Apple saw a considerable increase in sales after it established official presence here. 

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com