Microsoft has confirmed that Xbox One will go on sale in China in September. It is the first foreign company to announce the sale of its consoles in China after the country lifted a 14-year old ban in January this year.
Microsoft will launch the console in collaboration with BesTV New Media Co, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group.
In an official blog post, Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president at Microsoft 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.
China’s gaming market, which is currently dominated by PC, mobile and online games, is seen as a key growth area for console makers.
“Launching Xbox One in China is a significant milestone for us and for the industry,” said Yusuf Mehdi. He explained that gamers make up roughly a third of China’s population, or more than the entire population of North America. China’s game market is based mostly on PC gamers, many who play in Internet cafes with their friends. Total revenues were $13 billion in 2013, up 38 percent from a year ago.
“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,” Mehdi said. “Creators and gamers alike have eagerly awaited a new generation of entertainment experiences in China.”
Microsoft needs the boost in China to compete better against the Sony PlayStation 4, which costs $400 to the Xbox One’s $500. Sony has sold more than 7 million PS4s to date, compared to 5 million Xbox One’s shipped to retailers. It isn’t clear when the PS4 will debut in China, but it seems likely that the console will receive approval there, too.
In 2000, China banned gaming consoles, citing their adverse effect on the mental health of young people. The restriction stayed in place with a brief exception made for the PlayStation 2 in 2004. However, earlier this year China said that it would allow foreign firms to make consoles within Shanghai’s free-trade zone and sell them in China after inspection by cultural departments.