China lifts its 15-year ban on video game consoles

China is lifting its ban on the manufacturing and sale of video game consoles in its country, which opens a large door of opportunity for the likes of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. This expands China's previous declarations of more openness for video game consoles, which were still laden with restrictions.

The new rules will benefit foreign and domestic console makers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Last year, China eased its ban on video game consoles, but limited the list of welcome foreign console manufacturers and required them to operate only in Shanghai's free trade zone. This "pilot" was successful, according to China's Ministry of Culture.

Chinese gamers have been limited to PC and mobile video games because of the restrictions on video game consoles. But the statement from the country's Ministry of Culture lifting the ban, which has been in place since 2000, will mean gamers in that huge market will have access to Sony's PlayStation, Microsoft's Xbox, and Nintendo's Wii consoles. The country's strict review of video game content will likely remain in place.

"This is great news for us," a Sony Computer Entertainment spokeswoman told The Wall Street Journal.

The gaming market in China is estimated to be worth $22.2 billion this year, according to gaming research firm Newzoo BV. China is second only to Japan when it comes to digital gaming in Asia, according to SuperData Research.

The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are already available in China, though sales have been rather unimpressive. Only about 550,000 of those two consoles are expected to sell in the country this year.