Microsoft Strikes First in Battle over China’s Console Market
The US firm Microsoft launched their Xbox One console in China last month to become the first outside producer to officially sell their console in the country after a fourteen year ban on foreign consoles was lifted in January.
Chinese authorities had imposed restrictions on outside games consoles coming into the country that saw a massive black market for them open up but after fourteen years they have decided to lift this ban and Microsoft are the first company to move into the potentially lucrative market.
The Chinese government is wary of what content may be brought into the country via foreign videogames, hence the original ban, but they are still tightly monitoring the games that are being put on the market and only ten were available at the launch of the Xbox One. Microsoft say a further seventy are slated for release so far.
Chinese regulators prefer to see videogames with minimal violence and with educational properties so a lot of popular western titles, such as Call of Duty, will remain banned within the country but Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Swedish Developer Mojang could well see them push the massively popular building block game Minecraft on the Chinese market as it ticks all the regulatory boxes. Many suggest this is one of the main reasons why Microsoft bought the company out for $2.5 billion earlier in the month.
One advantage of being the first into the market will be that they can make the most of the clamour for foreign made consoles whilst others lag behind. Japanese companies Sony and Nintendo are both planning on launching their respective consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Wii U, in the country but neither have set a date for when this is going to happen meaning that Chinese consumers are more likely to pick up the Microsoft made console rather than waiting for something that doesn’t have a definite launch date.
This is great news for the American economy as the country has been looking for ways to introduce many of their products into the burgeoning Chinese market and the tech sector is one way of doing so. China has a tumultuous relationship with nearby neighbours Japan, who typically are the market leaders in such areas, and so if an American company can beat them to the punch in such a potentially lucrative market it would be big news.
The first consoles were sold in Shanghai at a price of 4,299 yuan ($699, £430) which does not make them a particularly cheap purchase and would suggest that Microsoft is targeting the ever growing middle class in China.