MICROSOFT WILL LAUNCH its Xbox One games console in China this September, the first games console to hit the country in 14 years.
The Redmond firm will launch the Xbox One in collaboration with BesTV New Media, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group with which it signed a joint venture last September.
The Xbox One will be the first games console to take advantage of the ban that was rescinded in January to reach the country's half a billion gamers. September is also when Microsoft plans to launch the Xbox One in Japan and 25 other countries.
Games consoles were banned in China in 2000 amid fears the mental health of young people in the country could be damaged by the devices. However, at the start of this year, China lifted the ban, allowing foreign funded companies located in a new trade zone in Shanghai to sell games consoles nationwide.
Microsoft called the Xbox's upcoming launch in China an historic milestone for the gaming industry.
"In China, there are over half a billion gamers, so the opportunity to create global and locally created content to delight millions of gaming families everywhere is something that we're really passionate about," said Microsoft CVP of devices and studios Yusuf Mehdi in a video about the venture.
But the company could still face some challenges in selling the console, as all Xbox games brought to China will need a nod from local authorities before they can be sold, meaning violently graphic games like Grand Theft Auto, for instance, might not ever reach the market.
When Chinese State Council announced that it was relaxing the rules on the ban, both Ubisoft and Nintendo saw spikes in their share prices. Ubisoft's share price jumped to more than €10 on the Paris stock market, while Japanese firm Nintendo also took a leap and its shares increased in value by 11 percent. Nintendo's share price rose to 15,850 Yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, so it might be that we see other console makers following suit soon.
Whether Chinese citizens will embrace the chance to spend more money on games than they have been used to spending has yet to be seen, especially since the PC gaming market is already a huge deal there. µ
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