Now that consoles are legal in China, everybody’s trying to figure out how to get into the market, and it sounds like Microsoft is on the fast track to a China launch. According to a recent BesTV (百视通) earnings call, Microsoft has already set up a joint-venture company in China with BesTV, and will announce the details of the Xbox One’s China launch this month.
The device is expected to launch in China this July, and BesTV is expecting to sell at least 100,000 units.
According to BesTV, Microsoft will be appointing the new company’s CEO, so long as it can find someone who meets BesTV’s three conditions: that he or she be able to speak Chinese, understand the Chinese market, and understands Microsoft. The CEO Microsoft picks will also be announced this month.
The joint venture company will also be working on domestically produced game content; both console games and online games. These games will be everything from shooters to exercise games, and will feature different monetization systems like paid downloads or for-purchase in-game equipment.
Perhaps most interestingly, BesTV says that domestic Xbox One games will be cheaper than their overseas counterparts. In fact, company executives said in the conference call that they would cost less than 300 RMB, which means they’ll be under $50 (new games cost around $60 in most countries outside China).
It also sounds like the game censorship and approval process may be shortened or circumvented somewhat. Since the company will operate in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, the games approval process will fall to a local Shanghai administrative department rather than the national Ministry of Culture. This may mean that Chinese gamers will have access to less-censored foreign games than was previously possible, or at least access to games that are released in China closer to their global release dates, but it also may not make any practical difference whatsoever.