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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 01, 2014

Xbox One to Hit China This September With BesTV Backup

By Steve Anderson, Contributing TMCnet Writer

The Chinese market has long been a hotly-desired market by many companies worldwide. Its sheer masses of people, many of whom have recently found new life as consumers, are eager to try out some of the products that may have only been rumored to exist. Console gaming proves to be no different here, as Microsoft (News - Alert)—joined by partner firm BesTV New Media Co.--looks to bring the Xbox One to the Chinese market starting this September.

Together, Microsoft and BesTV New Media have combined to form E-Home Entertainment, and have been so since last September's expansion of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, a development that opened up quite a bit of new opportunity. The new joint venture is set to offer several breeds of game, from online education and fitness-related matter to straight gaming, and there are even plans to bring in an investment fund to give developers extra push in developing for the new platform.

While this is a big step in its own right, it's a step that's cemented by the development that the Xbox One will, as a result, be the first such console available in the Chinese market. The numbers help underscore just how big a development this is for Microsoft as a whole; the Chinese gaming market, even without the major consoles as players, generated over $13 billion in 2013 alone, which was itself up 38 percent on the preceding year. Most of this market is based on PC and mobile devices, with a good chunk in the online gaming market as well, but Chinese game developers have been doing brisk business.

It actually makes a note of sense that the Xbox One should be the first major gaming console to appear in China, due mainly to an issue of culture in the country. There has been some anti-Japanese sentiment in China dating back to World War II, and given that Nintendo and Sony are essentially Japanese properties despite clear bases in the United States, Microsoft is the major console that's more of an American product. So for the Chinese to offer an expansion in terms of the gaming market, it's really not surprising that Microsoft should get the first—and potentially the only—nod in this particular arena.

It's also a huge help for Microsoft in general. Having recently found itself on the bad end of sales numbers, Microsoft could stand a huge new market full of eager gamers, and China would certainly seem to fit the bill. Though Microsoft may have a bit of a problem on its hands here particularly in terms of what content is allowed in China. Back in 2008, China's General Administration of Press and Publications banned horror films, though the exact impact of that ban is somewhat unclear thanks to the Internet and the nature of pirated media in China as a whole. That may leave some of Xbox One's biggest content out of the picture altogether—will “Dead Rising 3” even make it to Chinese shores?--and make Microsoft more dependent on local developers.

Still, though, this is quite the opportunity for Microsoft, and one that it's likely eager to capitalize on even as Sony is seen pulling ahead in the latest numbers on the overall state of the console wars. Only time will tell if Sony can get in itself, or if Nintendo will join in the fray, but the console wars just opened up a new front, and this could tip some scales in the long term.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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