American McGee claims "Xbox One will fail in China"

But better placed for success than Sony, Nintendo, analyst argues.

Microsoft announced yesterday it would launch Xbox One in China this September and try to crack the market of a country which previously outlawed games consoles altogether.

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Now, several industry figures have weighed in on Microsoft's chances of success - with varying levels of optimism.

In a lengthy post to his Facebook page last night, Alice Returns developer American McGee - a long-time resident of Shanghai - deemed the plan a "blunder".

"It's a good thing Microsoft is rolling in cash, because they've just made announcement of a plan that's going to cost them dearly," he explained, listing five reasons Microsoft's console was apparently doomed to failure.

Far from the country being a fresh market, easy importing via online sellers meant Xbox One (and other consoles) were already there, McGee reasoned, adding that everyone already has a set-top streaming box of some description, too.

Piracy is another big issue for Microsoft to battle, while McGee also questioned the console's target market, saying that middle-class youngsters may not have time for gaming.

"Between the ages of 3-22 years of age they are heads-down with study, school, and extra-curricular activities that will increase their chances of competing successfully against others in the super-hot Chinese job market," he wrote. "Those that aren't studying don't have money to spend on a console."

Legitimately sold consoles will also suffer from censorship and restrictions on games, he concluded - something seemingly backed up by the Chinese government's recently-published guidelines for which games it will allow to be released.

The rules will block "anything that promotes obscenity, drug use or violence", anything that "insults, slanders or violates the rights of others" and any gambling-related content or features.

"Microsoft has to make a play for the Chinese consumer."

IHS analyst Piers Harding-Rolls

But industry analyst Piers Harding-Rolls has argued that Microsoft may not have much choice in its push for China.

"Microsoft has to make a play for the Chinese consumer," he told Eurogamer today, citing the fact that the company's rivals were already moving in on the country.

"While Microsoft has other products and brands that are positioned in the country (Windows software, Nokia phones) the company has correctly identified that the lack of an official console market means an early move like this gives the company an opportunity to fill this vacuum more efficiently."

Writing in an IHS Technology article yesterday, Rolls added that Microsoft was in a better place to succeed "than either or Nintendo" at present due to Microsoft's push to offer local media content and experience with other types of technology in the country.

Microsoft's competitors in the Chinese market at the moment are the huge amount of PC gamers and the growing popularity of mobile gaming, predominantly on Android handsets.

"We do not expect sales fireworks at launch, but with its partner BesTV, which has access to local entertainment content, a large addressable market of existing IPTV users as well as marketing and distribution expertise, Microsoft is giving itself a good opportunity.

"Even with this approach, success is not guaranteed. What is clear is that, in a market where a limited number of consumers game on consoles and almost none spend money on console content, success will not happen overnight. It will take significant time to educate the Chinese audience about the Xbox brand and Xbox One device - so strategic longevity, deep financial pockets and commercial staying power will all play a role in building towards success in the territory."

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