TECH

China Reverses 14-Year Console Ban, And Gets The Xbox One As A Reward

30/04/2014 11:01 BST | Updated 30/04/2014 11:59 BST

China has rescinded its 14-year-old ban on console video games - and the reward is an imminent Xbox One launch.

The ban was put in place in 2000 after fears that young people could become addicted or even mentally damaged by the rapidly advancing systems.

Of course, the ban wasn't exactly watertight. PC gaming was not banned and exploded in popularity, while custom-made consoles like the unique Nintendo iQue were allowed to play a selection of older games.

Meanwhile piracy meant that many consoles were unofficially released, copied or made commercially inviable. And of course most of the world's biggest consoles are made in China anyway - meaning that leaks were inevitable.

In all the gaming industry is currently worth around £8 billion a year in China, with most of the official profit generated by PC and mobile games.

Now the Chinese government has relented. Last September it reversed the console ban and now Microsoft has announced the Xbox One will be released there in September.

Microsoft said the "monumental" release of its games in China were a milestone for the country, and its bottom line.

It will still need the approval of local authorities before releasing any game, and it will sell the machine in cooperation with local IP TV provider BesTV to expand the service.

It said in a statement:

"The culture of games and entertainment is rapidly growing in China, with nearly half a billion people playing games - roughly a third of the country’s population and more than the entire population of North America."