Overseas version of Nintendo Switch removed from Taobao amid tightened regulations
Published: Mar 31, 2021 11:25 PM
Nintendo Switch photo:VCG

Nintendo Switch photo:VCG

The overseas version of popular Japanese game console Nintendo Switch is no longer available on Taobao, the Global Times learned on Wednesday, and industrial insiders said it could be due to China’s tightened regulations against smuggled items.

The Chinese version and other overseas versions for which the proper tariffs have been paid are still available on the platform, but only a few stores are still selling overseas versions.

Some online distributors told the Global Times that they had removed related items following the platform’s requirement but refused to reveal more details.

Staff of a game console store on Taobao told the Global Times that the foreign version of the console is still available to buy in their physical store. If a customer cannot reach the physical store, staff can arrange for an order to be placed online, they said.

Due to China’s related regulations, limited online multi-player functions and relatively few games are available on the Chinese version of the Switch console, which is officially distributed by Tencent, the sole agent in charge of distribution in the Chinese mainland.

Therefore, most consumers choose to buy overseas versions, such as those made for Hong Kong and Japan, which need to be bought from private distributors and may have lower prices. 

A game console distributor in Beijing who wished to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Wednesday that the removal of Switch consoles from Taobao may be a result of China’s enhancement of inspections to curb smuggling. “The tightened regulations may affect supply in the game console market but the removal of Switch consoles on Taobao may be caused by reports of the selling of smuggled goods,” said the distributor. 

A game console trading company based in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province was fined earlier in March for distributing game consoles from “unknown sources,” according to company information provider Qichacha. 

“The foreign version of the game console is not only an entertainment product but also an online platform for games that haven’t been approved by China’s authorities,” Zhang Shuyue, an independent analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday. He suggested that it might be necessary to regulate foreign versions of the game console. 

“In addition, Nintendo and Tencent are likely to cooperate to protect legitimate rights and interests of their products in the Chinese mainland market, which may be the reason for Taobao to remove the related products from its platform,” said Zhang. 

“Most of the foreign versions of the Switch consoles sold in China are from illegal import sources and the business seems to be run in a ‘grey zone,’” Li Changxiao, a Switch user in Hohhot, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, told the Global Times. Li said that smugglers usually disassemble the consoles into parts to avoid customs inspection when carrying them cross the border. 

Some netizens said they may have little chance to enjoy new games because of the limitations of the Chinese version of the Switch console. However, other netizens said that the regulation is reasonable and lawful, as well as helpful for the development of the country’s game console market. 
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