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China ends 15 year old ban on foreign video game consoles

After banning foreign video game consoles for 15 years, China has decided to welcome them back with open arms.

The country has decided to lift the ban on video game console sales that's been in place since 2000. While PC and mobile gaming have been quite popular in China, the big three console makers - Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony - were not allowed to do business in the country because they were foreign companies.

China started easing bans on console sales in January 2014 when the country's Ministry of Culture approved foreign console sales, with a caveat that all imported hardware was inspected and backed by the governing body, and it was only sold inside the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. The decision was seen as a major turnaround for the long-closed Chinese market.

But the latest development allows for console sales outside the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, throughout China. The decision will allow Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony to move their products in a market populated by more than 1.3 billion people. It will also open doors for both foreign and domestic console makers will also be able to manufacture their products inside Chinese borders.

The Ministry of Culture said the lifting of the ban is a result of the successful test run that started last year. According to Wall Street Journal, the Chinese gaming market is currently worth $22.2 billion, which is up 23% over the prior year. "This is great news for us," a Sony spokesperson told the WSJ.