Microsoft may launch the Xbox One video game console in China in late 2014 through a joint venture with a Chinese company, according to a report from Kotaku.
Consoles are still banned in China, though many systems are available on the black market. But many have speculated that the Communist regime may lift the ban, and it got more fuel today thanks to a story published by one of China’s big tech sites, Sohu IT.
Luo Jiangchun, the CEO of online video service firm Funshion, said that the Xbox One will be available in 2014, as his company will work on a marketing and advertising campaign related to it. Luo’s company is majority-owned by Chinese Internet TV provider BesTV, which has a joint venture with Microsoft.
Microsoft declined to comment, other than to say it will launch its console in new markets in 2014.
Lisa Cosmas Hanson, the head of Chinese game market researcher Niko Partners, said, “Microsoft now has a JV with BesTVm, and Funshion is owned by BesTV, so if they say it may be the Xbox One, then I guess it might be. But it will need to be manufactured in the SFTZ to qualify, and yes, the Kotaku article correctly pointed out that the language in the policy is still vague.”
She added, “It would seem more logical for the JV to develop a less expensive, less fancy product for the Chinese market, especially one that could use the IPTV or other Internet TV protocols to distribute and operate the games. Remember, the Nintendo JV in China called iQue also produced the “DS” and “GBA” (and now even 3DS XL) in Suzhou China for sale in China, but only the imported versions ever sold because the domestic versions were not the same and had too few approved titles. I would recommend waiting to see what the actual product released in China will be, even if it has the same name as of now.”
Microsoft and BesTV have invested $79 million in the venture, which is based in Shanghai’s Free Economic Zone.
Consoles have been banned in China since 2000 because they reportedly corrupt youth (though it’s not always strictly enforced), and this one reason why PC gaming has become so popular in that country. PCs have dual purposes for work and education, and so the paternal Chinese government permits them to be sold.