Niko has written in the Niko News (5/29) that it is interesting that Microsoft’s Chinese JV partner for Xbox One (BesTV) and Sony’s Chinese JV partner for PS4 (Oriental Pearl Culture Development) are owned by the same parent company, the Shanghai Media Group, which in turn is partially owned by the government.
Now it seems that the connection between these two global rivals may become stronger, as several news outlets have reported that BestTV and OPCD might merge into one company, an event that would imply that PS4 and Xbox One then would be operated by the same company, which in turn is partially owned by the Chinese government. We will need to wait and see if this merger really happens.
Microsoft delayed the launch of the Xbox One from Sept 23rd until September 29th. No rescheduled date was provided at the time the delay announcement was made, leading to speculation that the console would not be released in mainland China until year end.
However, soon after the rescheduled date was announced and effectively assuaged the speculators. No specific reason was given for the delay. Microsoft says that 10 games have been approved for launch, and will be sold digitally only for now via the Xbox Games Store with disc-based versions available in the future.
The launch lineup consists of Dance Central Spotlight, Forza Motorsport 5, Kinect Sports Rivals, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Naughty Kitties (from Coconut Island, a Chinese ID@Xbox developer),Neverwinter Online, Powerstar Golf, Rayman Legends, Trials Fusion and Zoo Tycoon. According to Microsoft, more than 70 other titles are “in the pipeline for (government) approval,” such as Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Killer Instinct. Xbox One apps available at launch include Game DVR and Skype, with a BesTV app for video content coming soon.
The Xbox One will be sold in 4,000 stores in 37 Chinese cities. The console with Kinect is priced at 4,299 yuan ($700.17), while the stand-alone system is priced at 3,699 yuan ($602.45). It comes with a two-year warranty, and Xbox Live Gold access is free through March 2015.
Alibaba, a company often compared to Amazon of the US, and often noted as a rival for Tencent in some lines of business, had its much acclaimed IPO on Thursday 9/18. The company is now traded on NYSE and shares opened at 35% over the IPO price of $68, rising to $99.70 during the first day of trading. Extra shares were allotted to underwriting bankers at the $68 price on Monday, bringing the total raised by the IPO to $25 billion. The price on 9/24 is $90 per share, and the current market cap is $221 billion.
Now the question is, what will Alibaba due to enhance its competitiveness in online and mobile games in China and the world against Tencent, currently far and away the market leader for those segments in China.
The NYT reported on 9/22 that the Great Firewall and content monitoring and site blocking in China are increasingly more cumbersome for more and more businesses located there, and the article focused on Google’s major aches and pains in the geography. The angle regarding digital games is that Google Play is only partially available in China, leaving a need and opportunity for hundreds of other Android app stores and markets for Chinese consumers to navigate. The article further surmises that companies may relocated to other parts of Asia rather than deal with the technology barriers.