Could China become the 3rd largest console games market?

3 min read


The Xbox One is doing dismally in Japan. At last count, the system had only sold 1314 units in the last week for a total of around 31,116 units since launch. That’s terribly depressing, but you might put that down to nationalism. Japan’s always favoured homegrown systems. The truth though, is that the other systems – the ones from Japan – aren’t doing all that well at home either, each selling through fewer than ten thousand systems in the last week.

It’s a situation Microsoft’s obviously unhappy with .

“It’s not as though we’re satisfied with the current sales state,” Xbox Japan boss Takashi Sensui told Famitsu (via Kotaku). “We hope to continue through taking user feedback and improving [the Xbox One] and offering content that everyone can enjoy. We are also aware that reaching out to let more people know about the Xbox One is vital.

“However, the current console generation has become very long. We hope to lay out a long-term vision and to focus on publicity for our console. Taking the first step was very important, and as for how to permeate the market from here, we hope to continue to do our best.”

That doesn’t mean Asia has forsaken the great big game-playing VCR from Microsoft. It’s the first console to be officially available in China in 14 years. Government put a ban on the things a decade and a half ago to stem the tide of Chinese players becoming addicted to games – sending them to internet cafes and grind-laden MMO’s instead. That ban’s been relaxed a little, and people there are obviously aching for a little console gaming action: The Xbox One has sold through over 100 000 units on its first day of availability. And that’s despite the system selling for $600, with games that are seemingly crippled by DRM.

You might say that it’s the novelty factor; but the truth is that despite the ban, consoles have never really not been available. Hong Kong is just a bridged, driveable ocean away, and consoles have always been available through grey distribution anyway. China though, is a newly rich country, filled with people who’ve got expendable income. There are all sorts of rules and regulation still in place, making China a less-than-desirable region to launch consoles and games in. In the end though, it seems to be worth it – and it certainly has been for Microsoft.

“We know there are millions of gamers there and lots of pent-up demand,” says Phil Spencer, the company’s Xbox head.

With that sort of success, I quite rightly see Nintendo and Sony paying attention despite the still on going tensions between Japan and China. And I think within a year or two, China will be usurp Japan’s position as the third most important market for games. In fact, given the country’s population, It could even grab the number two spot.

Last Updated: October 3, 2014

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