Microsoft has officially announced that it will finally launch the Xbox One in China after an existing 14-year-old ban on consoles was lifted earlier this year. They have become the first foreign company to announce the sale of a console since the ban was rescinded in January.
Gaming consoles were banned in 2000 amid fears the mental health of young people in the country could be damaged by the devices, however after social pressure and further scientific research the ban has been relaxed. Since the ban started in 2000 all major gaming firms such from Microsoft to Nintendo have been unable to enter the emerging market.
A message on Microsoft’s website called the news "monumental" for the company, because in effect it opens up the market to additional one billions new customers.
"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."
Microsoft has teamed up with a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group, to distribute the consoles from September, the retail price of the unit has yet to be disclosed possibly due to a second impending Xbox One Price drop globally.
Worldwide sales of the Xbox One have lagged behind those of Playstation 4, partly due to Sony launching its console in more countries than Microsoft, but this may also be due to the negative launch reception seen around the world. Microsoft's DRM removal may have helped this but it's definitely suffered because of the initial plans.
The move into China may help the Xbox One pick up some momentum in the console sales battle, but we are sure it won't be long before the Playstation 4 takes it place alongside it in the shops. or perhaps China will rock the world with their own selection of consoles. Either way it will be interesting to see how Microsoft and Sony adapt their consoles for the market, at the end of the day you have to remember the Chinese version of World of Warcraft has had to be edited to be blood and skeleton free which took an additional 3 years to develop properly.
Without console gaming, China's games scene is currently dominated by PC, mobile and online games. China’s middle class is ever expanding so the potential for market growth is immense, if Microsoft time the process correctly it could be a gold mine for them but any mistakes could be very costly indeed.
In 2013, the gaming industry in China was worth £8bn, a rise of around 40% on the previous year, and if future predictions hold true this will continue to grow at an amazing rate and it's no surprise to us that Microsoft wants to secure their position with it's Xbox One console.