Before the win8 debut, Microsoft brought it to Shanghai, China. Along with the promotion for the new system, Microsoft also created a Chinese Xbox site.( Xbox Official). While the site is promoting services of the online interaction system Xbox Live (the interaction between PC, tablets and Windows phone for the Chinese market). Microsoft’s ambition to re-introduce the gaming console Xbox can be easily noticed.
Both the seller and the customers are anticipating the yet-to-come gaming console while it is still illegal in China to produce them. How would Microsoft dodge that bullet? Here are my thoughts on that:
It might be achieved by playing a “positioning trick”
The law regarding gaming consoles is not welcomed by the gamers in China, the enforcement of the law is also powerful. However,the enforcers of the law don’t care much about the game industry enough to figure out what gaming consoles have become these years. Furthermore, given the existing entertainment devices we have on the market, It seems that the law enforcers took the law literally. Take Nintendo for example. Nintendo introduced it’s device iQue player, a product of the joint production between Nintendo and Chinese company.
If you have never seen an iQue Player before, there you have it. How is this not a gaming console you asked? Well, Nintendo and its’ Chinese partner tricked the Chinese government by implementing the notion of ” playing video games contributes to the mental development of children”, therefore instead of being positioned as a gaming console, the iQue Player is actually a “mental ability developing device” and whoever is in charge of the “gaming consoles control” is OK with it.
If Microsoft choose to go down the same road in order to re-introduce Xbox, Instead of a gaming console, an “interactive family entertainment device/system with motion capturing technology (thanks to Kinect)” could be Xbox’s new position in China. However, this strategy also has its’ shortcomings. As a dedicated gaming console, Xbox was perceived as a device for video games since the its’ very first appearance on the market. If the reputation was too well-established, the idea of “interactive family entertainment device/system” might not be as convincing as expected.
Thus, while we’re all anticipating Xbox in China, let’s also hope that the console is not that famous in the eyes of the law enforcers.
As people would make fun of, most of the living essentials around us are made in China, which makes perfect sense for Chinese consumers to purchase a can of Dr. Pepper, a pair of Levi’s Jeans or a HP Laptop. For Gaming consoles however, it’s another story. The Minister of Culture banned gaming consoles (xbox 360, PlayStations. Etc, and you won’t be surprised about where they were made) in China (Find out why gaming consoles are banned in China here). Since consoles are banned in China, it left us with seemly only PC as the gaming platform. As I mentioned in the last post, we hardly sale games in China.
What’s more ironic is that, not only the gaming consoles were made in China, the actual games, which are played by gamers globally, are starting bear the made in China label. Let’s take look at what the big-shot companies are doing with their Chinese branches to get an idea:
According to their website, it is said that this branch is focusing on the development of online games. Furthermore, with the Asian-Pacific headquarters of PopCap (the one that create Bejeweled) located in Shanghai 4 years ago, EA Shanghai is also distributing its effort in the social/mobile gaming segment.
EA Beijing, along with its subsidiary Playfish Studio is focusing on social games.
We can infer that while regular games (video games and PC gaming softwares) are banned in China, mobile/social games are on their way to reach the peaks. Are there different standards?
Furthermore, on EA’s social media outreach in the Chinese Twitter – Weibo.com, not only did they promote their mobile/social games, they also provide news regarding their product in other markets (e.g. the latest Mass Effect trilogy pack). It seems pointless for them to promote such product to this audience group given that in the foreseeable future, such product would never be sold in China.
BUT, maybe, maybe it’s EA’s strategy, a strategy to create the demand for such product? If so this is a clever move but it will take a long long time, given the current game retailing situation in China.
Ubi Shanghai is said to be one of the largest game developing studio in China. It has participated in game developments since 2000. The games Ubi Shanghai developed include the late Rayman series and a large number of the Tom Clancy’s branded games.
Mainly focusing on the maintenance of the MMO World of Warcraft in China.
Blizzard’s operation revealed another double standard in the Chinese gaming industry. Online games are not banned. Why? It’s hard to pirate an online game and online game brings continuous profits.
So this is it? while Chinese who works at Ubi are developing games that can never be played legally by Chinese gamers, the industry in China generates its revenue almost entirely on the online gaming segment? Besides, the market for offline-gamers is ignored. There are tons of gamers like me, who are not really fond of online games but shares a common passion on offline games. The revenue might not be our biggest concern, instead, online gamers get to enjoy what they like while we have nothing to play unless we choose play illegally.
This is ironic, and there is something wrong about the restrictions.