Microsoft launching Xbox One in China this September

Console will be the first to take advantage of Shanghai Free Trade Zone

Microsoft has confirmed that it will be the first console manufacturer to take advantage of the expansion of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone to launch its machine in China, with the Xbox One coming to the region in September this year.

In an official blog post, Yusuf Mehdi spoke about the local business partnership which has enabled the platform owner to tap into this potentially enormous market.

"Today marks a monumental day for Xbox, as together with our partner BesTV New Media Co., we announced we will bring Xbox One to China in September of this year," wrote Medhi. "This is a historic moment in our partnership as we work toward the first official Xbox launch in China. Xbox One will also be the first system of its kind to launch in China.

"The culture of games and entertainment is rapidly growing in China, with nearly half a billion people playing games - roughly a third of the country's population and more than the entire population of North America. The gaming industry saw massive growth in the last year - generating more than $13 billion in 2013, an increase of 38% in the last year alone. 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. Creators and gamers alike have eagerly awaited a new generation of entertainment experiences in China.

"On behalf of the entire Xbox team, we are incredibly excited to bring Xbox One and the next generation of games, entertainment, online education and fitness to China. Launching Xbox One in China is a significant milestone for us and for the industry, and it's a step forward in our vision to deliver the best games and entertainment experiences to more fans around the world. Enwei Xie will lead Xbox China as general manager, bringing years of Microsoft experience both in China and abroad."

The extension of the free trade zone, confirmed last year, marks a significant development in China's gradual and somewhat grudging lowering of international trade barriers. It's not yet clear how long the extension will be granted for, or whether it could be extended to cover new areas of business, but Microsoft is clearly expecting to establish a significant presence in the region, as are its partners.

"The launch of Xbox One here will bring distinction as the first-ever game console with OTT functionality in China," said Dazhong Zhang, senior vice president, Shanghai Media Group, and chairman, E-Home Entertainment Development Company Ltd. "The launch of Xbox is a milestone for our company in the family entertainment market and will create profit growth opportunities. Furthermore, we will continue our investment and support into research and development for gaming content together with Microsoft. Via our cooperation with the world's leading team, we will continue to develop video games fused with Chinese culture and provide further distribution support for locally produced Chinese video game content to the world."

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Latest comments (3)

Payton Liu Production Support Analyst, IBM China5 years ago
Firstly, correction to this claim - "Xbox One will also be the first system of its kind to launch in China." Nope, it is not the first one. That honor belongs to Nintendo's iQue Player (a N64 equivalent console).
Then came Sony's PS2, which launched on December 20, 2003, and short lived. (a few months before banned from retail) I was there to see the Chinese version PS2 for sale in locale Sony stores. Well, I guess Sony is just too embarrassed to bring this up since it was a total disaster. You can still find PS2 launch information on Wikipedia PS2 main page, and I'm sure you can Google for more details online.

I hope Microsoft learned from its rivals' failure in China, otherwise it's going to be another disaster waiting to happen.

And here's my lists of concerns:
1. Censorship - this one is everywhere in China. It will be the major challenge for Microsoft.
2. Pirating - no money no business. Don't underestimate the damage, or you will be sorry.
3. General public - it will be hard to convince parents of China that gaming is good for their children,
Oh, you don't need to convince hardcore gamer like me, we never lost contact to the rest of world on console gaming. I've bought PS3, PS VITA and PS4 from Hong Kong and genuine games, of cause. Hardcore console gamer number is significant fewer than general PC and mobile gaming forks. My guesstimate based on personal experience is - no more than a million.
4. Competition - What competitions? You might ask. Cheaper consoles and games (other country versions) sold online directly from websites (i.e. TaoBao by Alibaba) to individuals, Hong Kong gaming market (people know where to buy stuff cheap and easy), and PC online gaming (the dominant gaming market in China).
5. Recent crack down on foreign media content in China - This one is still developing, and has increasing negative effects on all foreign media (movies, TV shows, games, etc.) The problems for Microsoft might be: forced to release games made by Chinese game developers only (who know how to pass through heavy and lengthy censorship); massive content cuts on games made by foreign developers, or banned outright.

Yes, 500,000,000+ gamer is an impressive figure. However, I have reasons to doubt if XBOX ONE can succeed in China.

PS: Just my 2 cents, from a long time Chinese core gamer.

In addition, XBOX LIVE is likely to have a China only zone. I sincerely hope that Microsoft does not lock the console to China only, Sony did with PS2 and ended badly.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Payton Liu on 30th April 2014 6:08pm

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Jeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing 5 years ago
The Xbox push in China is with a major Chinese partner, and a. Lot more about media than games.
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Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 5 years ago
As long as you do not got too interested in RPU numbers from Chinese ventures, the amount of units sold might look great on paper in the publicity war of consoles sold. If not, then see PS2, nobody will know in 24 months.
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