Microsoft on Tuesday said that it would begin selling its Xbox One video game and entertainment console in China starting in September, opening up the device to one of the biggest consumer markets on earth. The firm will work with a Chinese partner, digital-video firm BesTV New Media, to bring Xbox One to the country.
"We will bring Xbox One to China in September of this year," Microsoft corporate vice president Yusuf Mehdi announced. "This is a historic moment as Xbox One will be the first system of its kind to launch in China."
According to Microsoft, roughly one-third of China's population, or over half a billion people, play video games regularly. That's bigger than the entire population of North America. But because of a 14-year ban, Chinese gamers haven't been able to experience modern, dedicated video game consoles and have instead been gaming on PC, mobile and web.
Now, companies from outside of China can sell video game consoles and game titles in China as long as they operate "foreign-invested enterprises ... within a "Shanghai trade free zone." This explains Microsoft's partnership with BesTV New Media: Microsoft invested $237 million in this firm last September when the ban's end was announced, creating a new joint venture called E-Home Entertainment.
"Our joint venture is committed to providing opportunities for creators to unleash their imaginations for games, online education and fitness experiences for China and beyond," Mr. Mehdi explains. "As part of our partnership, E-Home Entertainment 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."
China isn't the only new country getting Xbox One in September: Last month, Microsoft announced that it would expand Xbox One market availability to include Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates. Of course, some of these countries were originally slated to get Xbox One when the console launched last year, but in August 2013, the firm delayed the launch in 8 countries.
Today, Xbox One is available in only 13 countries: Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, and New Zealand.