Microsoft’s Xbox One to go on sale in China

Console had been banned due to what China said were concerns about the cultural impact of violent games


Microsoft’s Xbox One is set to become the first foreign games console to go on sale in China, after a 14-year ban on the devices was lifted in January.

Microsoft said yesterday in China that its Xbox One would be available from September, through a partnership with local technology company BesTV New Media, part of Shanghai Media Group. No pricing was disclosed.

The move was made possible by the creation of a new free trade zone in Shanghai last year, the first of its kind in China, which allows local companies with foreign partners to ship products into the country.

China, which had banned the devices due to what it said were concerns about the cultural impact of violent games, retains significant restrictions on the kinds of software that Microsoft, and potentially its rivals Nintendo and Sony, will be allowed sell.

All foreign-created games will be subject to review by the authorities before they can be released.

The first step in unlocking a new multibillion-dollar market for international technology companies, Microsoft’s push into China could help it catch up with Sony’s PlayStation 4 in the latest bout of the console wars.

The Xbox One has sold more than five million units, lagging behind Sony’s more than seven million.

Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president for marketing and strategy in Microsoft’s devices and studios unit, hailed the China launch as a “monumental day”.

“The culture of games and entertainment is rapidly growing in China, with nearly half a billion people playing games . . . more than the entire population of North America.”

China banned console gaming in 2000, citing fears for the mental health of Chinese youth. However, consoles manufactured in China for sale elsewhere, continue to be sold openly in Chinese electronics shops for high mark-ups, with many having been modified to accept pirated software. – (The Financial Times Ltd)