The lights are on
Microsoft has announced that the Xbox One will launch in China on September 23. The company is preparing to roll out the console in 26 additional territories that month, including Japan, Israel, Korea, and parts of the Middle East and Europe.
The console, which will be released in partnership with BesTV, will cost ¥3,699 RMB ($600). According to Microsoft, 25 developers are working on more than 70 games for that market. EA, Ubisoft, 2K will join Chinese developers Perfect World, Gamebar, and Tencent in creating content for the platform.
The ID@Xbox independent developer program has also launched in China, meaning that local studios can start creating content for the platform. It also means that those studios signed onto the program already can explore bringing their titles to China’s nearly 1.4 billion people.
Microsoft expects to launch with Forza Motorsport 5: Game of the Year Edition, Kinect Sports Rivals, Powerstar Golf, Zoo Tycoon, and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection will arrive in China, also.
The Xbox One is the first gaming console approved for sale in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone after a ban was lifted earlier this year. Pre-orders are open now for the Xbox One in China.
A Day One edition of the console will be available with a commemorative controller, digital achievement, Kinect Sports Rivals (and the Kinect itself), Forza Motorsport 5: Racing Game of the Year, Neverwinter Online Commemorative Edition Pack, and Powerstar Golf with in-game credit. That version will retail for ¥4,299 ($697). The standard version comes with Powerstar Golf, a Neverwinter Online pack, free Xbox Live Gold through March 2015 (also available in the Day One pack).
Our TakeWhen China lifted the ban on game consoles, it opened up a legitimate opportunity in a country that typically accessed console gaming through illegitimate means. This is big business, not just for Microsoft, but for anyone who wants to maneuver the politically challenging waters to get a product into the Chinese market.
I’m eager to see how this influences Microsoft and if it opens up new gaming opportunities for those of us in other parts of the world. I also wonder if Perfect World, Tencent, and others will begin making titles developed for their local audience available to those of us in the rest of the world.
Email the author Mike Futter, or follow on Google+, Twitter, and Game Informer.