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Chinese online shops have sold a treasure trove of imported console games

China is the world’s largest gaming market, with console games only a small portion of it. For years, their revenue has been lower than that of mobile and PC games. (Learn more later). There is still a dedicated console fanbase, but they aren’t as many as the rest.

China is the biggest gaming market in the globe. The console games make up a small portion of overall revenue. There are still console gamers, but it is getting harder to find cartridges or devices.

TechCrunch and gamers’ online posts have shown that a few grey market console sellers on Taobao stopped selling and shipping their products last week. Before we can look into what might be happening, it is important to have a basic understanding of the industry.

Concerned about teenage addiction, China banned the import and sale consoles for videogames. The grey market, which targets a small number of players, still had consoles that could be imported. Due to their affordability and the social experience, the online and mobile gaming markets grew quickly.

Microsoft quickly responded to China’s lifting of restrictions on consoles, such as those by Sony and other 2015-giants like Sony, by releasing Chinese versions through local partners. The long-awaited partnership between Tencent and Nintendo was the catalyst for the release of the Nintendo Switch in China in 2019. Tencent is the biggest gaming company in the globe. Because consoles made in mainland China are subjected to strict regulatory oversight, the grey market has been maintained. This restricts the user’s choices to a limited friendly range that has been approved and approved by censors.

Many Chinese gamers use online and brick-and mortar electronics markets to buy imported versions of PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. These products are often imported into China through parallel trading. This allows the import of legal goods through unapproved channels. These games are not usually licensed for Chinese gaming and it can be difficult to obtain one from local publishers.

Many major importers of videogame consoles on Taobao were forced to suspend business. TechCrunch Screenshot

It is unclear how many console games and imported gaming consoles were removed by Taobao, or what caused it. Tgbus, which has 462,000 followers, is the most popular console games seller on Taobao. TechCrunch asked a customer representative if the store was experiencing a temporary stoppage in shipping due to “a water leak” at its warehouse. TechCrunch inquired further to learn that the store was experiencing an electrical-equipment issue.

Other vendors are vague and cite “special circumstances” to explain why they have suspended their services. A seller called the “Shanghai Gaming Console Store” and stated that it had stopped business at Taobao’s request. He did not go into detail.

Alibaba could not be reached immediately for comment.

Most console sellers with a large business seem to be affected by this incident. If you search for the correct keyword, you can still find consoles and cartridges in smaller Taobao shops or on other platforms like Pinduoduo.

This could be seen as China expanding its control over the games that gamers can play. Apple’s China App Store removed thousands of games in the last year without China’s approval. Others may have political motives. One of Hong Kong’s most prominent prodemocratic activists used Animal Crossing to protest against the government. It was then taken from grey market shops in Taobao and Pinduoduo.

Some others point out that parallel trade is often targeted by customs officers to avoid import taxes. This happens because goods are brought in by regular travelers. The console grey market has been affected before. While some grey goods may not be noticed, they are still very popular. In recent weeks, local players have been very interested in Monster Hunter Rise, an exclusive Nintendo-Switch title. Some imports may have been triggered by it.




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