In a society where people practically lunge at the chance to acquire a new model of their favorite device the moment it is released, it’s difficult to remember that some people don’t get access to these new goodies at all, or that some can only get them much, much later.
Nintendo’s popular Switch console is one such item: nearly two years after its release, the people of China are only just now gaining access to it. With severe restrictions and regulations in place, China has always been a little late to the party when it comes to popularizing new consoles and video games in their country, if they ever allow them in at all. After all, it is difficult to forget the nationwide ban on home consoles from 2000 to 2013, a dark time for Chinese gamers that is unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.
Still, times have changed and gaming has grown more and more publicly acceptable in the People’s Republic of China, though not to the same extent as it has in the West. Finally allowing Nintendo’s newest console to enter their borders is a great step forwards; especially considering Nintendo’s penchant for family-friendly games for all ages.
That said getting the Switch legalized for distribution in China wasn’t easy. Nintendo only managed to do it with help from Tencent, a massive Chinese e-commerce company, and a whole lot of lobbying in the Chinese government, not even to distribute the console across the whole country, but just to distribute it in Guandong, the province from which Tencent is based. Of course, if the Switch is allowed to be sold in Guandong, it probably won’t take very long for nationwide distribution to be allowed either.
Ultimately, the entire situation has a bit of amusing irony to it. Many of Nintendo’s most popular intellectual properties, such as Mario and Pokémon, are very popular franchises in China. It seems somewhat strange that a lobbying battle has to be fought at all just to let an innocuous entertainment device be sold to people that just want to throw Poké Balls at the upcoming eighth (yes eighth) generation of Pokémon. Still, it’s a reminder that video games aren’t a common luxury for everyone, and that some people have to struggle just to enjoy themselves, and that maybe we don’t appreciate how nice our entertainment industry is.