Microsoft will launch Xbox One in China in September, it's announced.
China is one of the world's biggest gaming markets, with more than $13 billion generated in 2013. While most Chinese gamers do so on PC and mobile, Microsoft will be hoping Xbox One carves out a piece of that lucrative pie for itself, although it has yet to announce its business model. Xbox One has shipped five million units to retailers in the markets it's launched in. While it's selling significantly faster than the Xbox 360, it's currently lagging some way behind competitor the PlayStation 4.
The launch is the result of a partnership between Microsoft and home entertainment company BesTV New Media Co., and the emergence of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone expansion in September of last year. Both companies formed E-Home Entertainment to manufacture and sell Xbox One there. It is the first official Xbox launch in China.
Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing, strategy and business at Xbox, hailed the move as "a significant milestone for us and for the industry".
Gamers in China have been able to get hold of game consoles from the likes of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo for some time, but not officially. In a video discussing the move, freelance writer and gamer Chan Peng said: "It would be cool if I can buy a console and software through legitimate channels."
Microsoft will have to navigate China's censorship rules for console games, however. The Chinese government prohibits the sale of anything that promotes violence, swearing, gambling or cults.
"Things that are hostile to China, or not in conformity with the outlook of China's government, won't be allowed," China's Ministry of Culture head Cai Wu has said. "We want to open the window a crack to get some fresh air, but we still need a screen to block the flies and mosquitoes."
Sony also hopes to make use of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. In an interview with Eurogamer last year, Sony Computer Entertainment boss Andrew House said the Chinese market could help push sales of the PlayStation 4 past its predecessors.