Microsoft is slashing the price of its Xbox One console in China.
Xbox One launched into a difficult Chinese market — where a 14-year ban on consoles only recently lifted — back in September last year. It sold 100,000 units in its first week, according to reports, but Microsoft hasn’t released any official Chinese sales figures since then. It’s now cut the price of the console for the second time in a clear effort to boost sales in what’s basically a PC- and mobile-driven market.
China’s gaming industry is set to become the biggest in the world this year, worth an estimate $22.2 billion, according to industry analyst Newzoo. Console and virtual reality games are expected to account for just 11 percent of this revenue, though, and both Microsoft and its rival Sony — which released the PlayStation 4 in China this March — are banking on this share increasing over time.
Games in Asia reports that the Xbox One console with Kinect will drop in price from 4,299 yuan ($693) to 3,799 yuan ($612) this Thursday. The console without Kinect will drop from 3,699 yuan ($596) to 2,999 yuan ($483). Despite the price reductions, both versions of the console will still cost more than they do in the U.S., partly due to local taxes. The Kinect-free version will now be closer in price to the PlayStation 4, though, which retails at 2,899 yuan ($467).
Strict government censorship restricts the games officially available to Chinese console owners, but both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One do allow use of physical games from other regions. This means that gamers can access popular titles via China’s gray market, but it’s still not possible to buy digital console games that lack official approval.
With high prices and restricted access to big-name games, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the console giants are struggling to make an impact in China.
Above: The Chinese game market breakdown this year.