It’s nice that Microsoft will release its new console in China, but will the region even bat an eyelid? Image credit: Microsoft
A while ago, e27 reported that the Xbox One will be out in September in parts of Asia, but news about it being out in one of the biggest Asian regions in the world was up in the air. Now it’s official, as BesTV and Microsoft announced that the new console will be out in China in, you guessed it, this September.
Consoles were sold in China via grey marketing, but that changed now due to the Chinese government taking away the decade-long ban on video game consoles. “This is a historic moment in our partnership as we work toward the first official Xbox launch in China,” said Xbox Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer Yusuf Mehdi, adding, “Xbox One will also be the first system of its kind to launch [in the country.]”
He said that Chinese gamers make up a third of the country’s population, which is bigger than the entire population of the Xbox’s main country demographic: North America. “Gamers in China have shown they love gaming — mostly on PC, mobile and online — and game developers in China have been delivering innovative games for years,” he stated.
To back that up, total revenues for gaming in China were worth US$13 billion last year. Its partner in the region, BesTV will help the US company launch the console in the country thanks to an early joint venture both companies formed called E-Home Entertainment.
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If you’ve been up to date with how Asian and China market works, we don’t need to tell you that Microsoft has an uphill battle to face. All gaming in China is done on PCs and the most-played titles are free-to-play. Next to fighting game Killer Instinct, which adopted a freemium model, every other Xbox One title at the moment is a retail product.
However, with the right method of localisation and software cherry-picking (i.e: China seems fond of high-class cars, so Forza 5 as a launch title?), it might make a dent; at least some analyst think so.
IHS Technology analyst Piers Harding-Rolls (via Venturebeat) said that with BesTV’s access to local content and large market of existing IPTV users, Microsoft has a good opportunity to have a leg up in the China first-party console wars, though it should be wary. “On the face of it, the size of the market, the scale of the population, and the wide interest in gaming makes China a very interesting market for console companies. But China is a unique market where consumers have no entrenched understanding of console gaming and are not used to gaming in the home on TVs.”
Digital World Research analyst PJ McNealy said that launching an entertainment console globally in China is a sound move. “With the door open, this makes a lot of sense. The Chinese market is getting bigger and more affluent,” he said, adding that the opportunity is huge, but the initial software and hardware sales will sell at a rather slow rate.