Microsoft announced this morning that it will now launch the Xbox One video game and entertainment console in China next week, on September 29, about a week later than originally planned. The console will launch with fewer China-specific games than expected, but it appears that the delay was indeed due to regulatory concerns in a xenophobic country that is starting to crack down on outside technologies.
"We take great care to ensure that we meet or exceed regulatory standards," Microsoft wrote in an emailed statement to Reuters explaining the 6-day delay. In other words, yes, Xbox One was delayed in China because of regulatory issues there.
The good news? Xbox One will still beat rival Sony PlayStation 4 to China, a country that had previously imposed a video game ban for 14 years.
Late Friday, Microsoft abruptly canceled the planned September 23 launch of the Xbox One in China but declined to explain why. Instead, the firm said at the time that it "would need a bit more time to deliver the best experiences possible for [its] fans in China."
Speculation about the delay centered on Microsoft's growing antitrust issues in China, the general regulatory climate there. I wondered aloud whether the delay was tied to the delivery of China market-specific apps and games. And while the firm has essentially admitted that regulatory issues triggered the delay, Microsoft has also confirmed my worries about the lateness of China-specific titles.
"After receiving government approval for the first wave of games, we've decided to launch with digital copies of the first 10 games now and will continue our work to bring more blockbuster games and a broad offering of entertainment and app experiences to the platform in the months to come," Microsoft Xbox China general manager Enwei Xie noted in a prepared statement. The firm had originally hoped for a bigger range of launch titles there.
Microsoft isn't the only tech company delaying an important launch because China-based regulatory agencies are flexing their market power muscles in the face of foreign devils. Apple suddenly delayed the launch of the iPhone 6 in that country last week, and while the firm was still able to sell 10 million handsets outside of China during the opening weekend of sales, that tally could have been much higher. As a result, however, black market iPhone 6 sales are surging in China, with some buyer paying over $2000 for a single device.
And while that is expensive, the Chinese will also pay for a legitimate Xbox One: The entry-level (Kinect-less) console will cost $600, while the higher-end version comes in at $700. Those prices are each about $200 higher than comparable consoles in the US.