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Do you hear that? It’s the sounds of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft smacking their lips, just salivating at the thought of legally entering the Chinese games market.

Asian games market research firm Niko Partners predicts a $13.1 billion game market for China in 2013. This is in its China Games Market Mid-Year 2013 Update Bulletin, which includes data and analysis of video games sales for the country that has recently lifted a long-standing ban on consoles. That’s a 28 percent growth for online PC games compared to 2012 and a 60 percent increase for mobile games revenue.

“The market has evolved and diversified over the past few years, and watching client-based games [online, often free-to-play games] is no longer sufficient to understand the market,” said Kevin Hause, a senior partner at Niko Partners, in an e-mail sent to GamesBeat.  “Gamer attention is now distributed to many additional segments of the vibrant and growing China games market.”

The vast majority of gaming revenue in China comes from mobile and online PC gaming, However, the end of the console ban means that Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft can now legally sell their systems in the country. The ban originally started in 2000. Still, consoles were easy enough to find for those who really wanted them. Black market stores, which advertise video game systems with clear, bold signage, sell more than one million consoles every year in China, according to Niko.

“The big difference is that if the market is legal there will be advertising, promotions, marketing, legally distributed games that are approved by the government as all legal games must be, and the ability to connect to other consoles via networks or the Internet,” states Niko in an opinion piece.

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