By Jonathan Davies

China has lifted a 14-year ban on foreign games consoles, giving a huge boost to the global video game industry.

The China government has partially lifted the ban, which has been in place for 14 years, over the past few years. Last year, the ban was lifted was certain companies and regulations only applied to consoles manufactured in Shanghai's free trade zone.

However, the Ministry for Culture's decision will allow consoles built elsewhere to be sold in the country. The news will come as a significant boost to the like of Sony and Microsoft which will now be able to begin to tap a huge market. The Chinese gaming market is estimated to be worth more than $22 billion this year.

Game developers will be less enthusiastic, however, as strict censorship on the content of games is likely to remain in place. It means the vast majority that contain violence will still not be allowed in the country.

The initial ban was brought in at the turn of the century because video games were considered to be "threatening state security, damaging the nation's glory, disturbing social order and infringing on others' legitimate rights".

Since then, Chinese gamers have been largely limited to PCs and mobile.