13 Chinese developers now working on a mixture of "new IP and fan-favourite games" for the console
The Xbox One will launch in China on 23rd September, Microsoft has announced, and will ship with two free games and free access to Xbox Gold through March 2015. As the NewsWire and Reuters are at pains to point out, it'll be the first foreign-made console to go on sale in the world's third biggest gaming market.
It follows the lifting of a ban on the sale of videogame consoles in the country earlier this year. Microsoft has partnered with TV set-top box maker BesTV New Media for the occasion, and has enlisted no less than 13 of China's "best" developers to work on games for the machine, including Neverwinter Online (recently written about by Aoife), Celestial Sword and Project X from Perfect World, plus unannounced titles from Gamebar and Yingpei Games. Microsoft is also working on a new fitness game, Tai Chi, which will launch first in China.
Pricing will start at 3,699 RMB, with an Xbox Gold subscription available for 199 RMB. All consoles sold in China will ship with copies of Powerstar Golf and Neverwinter Online (plus a Special Edition Pack), the free Gold trial, a localised interface and a two-year warranty.
BesTV will give away two free movies a month to Chinese Xbox One owners, as part of its commitment to delivering "hundreds of thousands of hours of entertainment content including blockbuster movies, sports, documentaries and on-demand TV programs - all in high definition". That's on top of a wealth of "exclusive locally-developed apps", such as Tencent's QQ Music, Douban FM, GameFY and Karaoke Master.
Last but not least, Microsoft and BesTV plan to establish two Chinese developer "innovation centres", one located in Shanghai. These "will be dedicated spaces driving local innovation initiatives in game and app development supporting entertainment content, original design and research and development in China.
"They will provide access to some of the world's top innovators, helping to accelerate entertainment content industry growth in China, to foster the creation of a world-class team and human capital, and expand local original content to the world. They will be built on continuing investments from the government and Microsoft."
What do you think? I think China is one of the elephants in the industry's room - awash with potential customers, but kept out of reach by political considerations.