Xbox One to launch in China, a gamer market bigger than the population of the U.S

Gaming giants Xbox and PlayStation are continuing their traditional console war to gain gamers hearts, minds, and thumbs. Foreign console sales in China have been banned for the past 14 years under reasons of influencing youth in the country.

That ban has now been lifted and Microsoft, in partnership with BesTV New Media, will be launching their Xbox One console in September.

China has around 500 million gamers – a third of the country – and more than the population of the entire U.S. Due to a lack of consoles, the majority of these gamers play on PCs. Whether Microsoft can convert some of these players to a console is yet-to-be-seen.

Despite newly-appointed Xbox Chief Phil Spencer’s focus on gaming; it could be the Xbox One’s entertainment features which entice this market to the console. Some China-based partnerships with localised content are sure to be attractive – even to the rest of China’s 1.35 billion population.

“Launching Xbox One in China is a significant milestone for us and for the industry, and it’s a step forward in our vision to deliver the best games and entertainment experiences to more fans around the world,” said Xbox executive Yusuf Mehdi in a statement.

China banned foreign game consoles outright for 14 years, citing the impact of video games on youth in the country. An expansion of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone last year relaxed the rules, but games are still expected to be subject to censorship rules in the country.

Being the first console to market in the country could also work in Microsoft’s favour in terms of games released on their system. China-based game studios are sure to see the potential benefits in releasing their titles on the popular game console worldwide.

Xbox is currently pushing their indie development program ID@Xbox which would allow smaller developers to get started. As part of the Xbox One launch in China, Microsoft says it “is investing to establish an innovation program that will enable creators and developers to build, publish, and sell their games on Xbox One in China and in other markets where Xbox is available.”

Microsoft’s Enwei Xie will lead Xbox China as general manager.

In other, but potentially related news, China is set to reclaim its crown by the end of 2014 as the world’s largest economy according to research from the International Comparison Programme and The Economist.

Do you think Microsoft bringing Xbox One to China is a good idea? Let us know in the comments.

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