Chinese consumers will finally get a chance to officially buy an Xbox One starting September 23.
Announced Wednesday, the Xbox One will be the first gaming console to land in China following the lifting of a ban that kept out such devices for 13 years. The console itself will sell for 3,699 RMB ($600) and will offer a selection of more than 70 different games as well as movies, sports, documentaries, on-demand TV shows, a fitness library, and locally developed apps for Chinese gamers.
The deal opens the door to millions of potential new customers for Microsoft. China had previously banned sales of foreign-made game consoles, claiming that the devices caused mental harm to children. With the ban officially lifted last January, Microsoft and other manufacturers can now officially sell their products in a country where such items had a bad history of being sold on the black market.
Some of the titles expected to be available on the first day include Forza Motorsport 5, Kinect Sports Rivals, Powerstar Golf, Zoo Tycoon, and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Other games slated to debut down the road include Sunset Overdrive and Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Such developers as Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and 2K are redesigning existing games specifically for the new market, according to Microsoft, while Chinese developers are creating their own titles.
Every Xbox One console sold in China will come with the Powerstar Golf and Neverwinter Online games, free access to Xbox Live Gold through March of 2015, and a Chinese-based interface with translated content and local payment options.
A special Day One limited edition will also be available with a price tag of 4,299 RMB ($696). For that price, buyers get a limited-edition commemorative China Day One controller and a Day One Achievement for their Xbox Live profile. A slew of games are also included, namely Kinect Sports Rivals, Forza Motorsport 5, Neverwinter Online Commemorative Edition Pack, and Powerstar Golf with in-game credit.
Microsoft has been working with BesTV New Media, a Chinese maker of Internet TV set-top boxes, to build the consoles in Shanghai's Free Trade Zone. Beyond the games, the Xbox One will offer Chinese customers entertainment courtesy of BesTV. Microsoft is promising hundreds of thousands of hours of TV shows, movies, and other items, with Xbox One owners in China getting two free movies per month.
"We're honored that Xbox One is the first console approved for sale in China through the Shanghai Free Trade Zone," Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft corporate vice-president of marketing for Devices and Studios, said in a statement. "We're dedicated to earning millions of fans in China by working with BesTV to deliver an all-in-one games and entertainment experience starting September 23."