Microsoft Launches Xbox One In China Today
For the first time ever, Xbox has landed in China. For the past 14 years, the Chinese government has banned the sale of foreign-made video game consoles in China. That’s one year longer than the Xbox brand has even existed.
The Xbox One marks the first major video game console release in China in over a decade, landing in 4,000 retail locations in 37 cities.
Microsoft has partnered with Chinese company BesTV, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group, for the console’s launch and distribution in China.
“This milestone is significant for both our partnership with China and our global expansion plan. Every new market launch is unique and we’re grateful to our fans for their patience and enthusiasm,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “We will continue to work closely with our partner BesTV to bring exciting games, entertainment and app experiences to delight gamers across China.”
Here’s the launch line-up (translated via, hat-tip NeoGaf):
- Forza 5
- PowerStar Golf
- Zoo Tycoon
- Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
- Rayman Legends
- Trials Fusion
- Naughty Kitties
- Fantasia: Music Evolved? or Dance Central: Spotlight
- Kinect Sports Rivals
Naughty Kitties is a Chinese exclusive at this time.
The launch line-up for the Xbox One in China is missing some notable entries, such as the recently released Destiny from Activision. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is also not available in China. Both games, as well as many others, do not meet the Chinese government’s censorship criteria which is heavy-handed when it comes to violent video games.
The console will sell in China for 4,299 yuan (just under $700) with the Kinect, a $200 premium over the same model in the United States. The Kinect-free model will retail for approximately $599.
Whether the Xbox One’s entrance into China can help propel the console’s flagging sales remains to be seen. The hardware is expensive, but it may be a lack of compelling content that hampers console sales the most.
According to Nick Ning, an analyst at 86Research Ltd. in Shanghai, video game sales will jump 39 percent to 111 billion yuan in 2014 but only 5 percent of that will go to video game consoles.
“Firstly, smartphone games have developed and now can do a lot,” Ning said,via Bloomberg. “Secondly, censorship in China is very strict. Even if people buy the console, the content they want to play needs to also get through censorship.”
The Xbox One marks the first of the major consoles to enter the Chinese market. That could translate to a much-needed win for Microsoft which continues to trail in the new-gen console wars behind Sony’s PlayStation 4. No hard launch date has been set for the PS4 in China yet.
Nintendo also plans to release a console in China, though according to the company it will be an entirely new system built with the Chinese consumer in mind. Nintendo may have an easier time working with China’s strict censorship guidelines given the family-friendly nature of its first-party line-up.
For more on the Chinese launch of the Xbox One, see Microsoft’s Xbox Wire.