Microsoft has announced that the launch of the Xbox One in China has been delayed from this coming Tuesday, September 23 until, more vaguely, the "end of the year." The weirdest bit, however, is that the software giant has only hinted at the reasons for the delay.
"Despite strong and steady progress, we are going to need a bit more time to deliver the best experiences possible for our fans in China," Microsoft said in a statement released late Friday on the U.S. West Coast. “At Xbox, we pride ourselves on delivering first-rate gaming and entertainment experiences, and to allow us to deliver on that promise, we need to reschedule the launch of Xbox One."
Reading between the lines—and assuming Microsoft isn't covering up a baloney antitrust-related issue with China, given its recent legal problems in that country—my guess is that this delay is tied to the release of China market-specific apps and games. That is, that enough are behind schedule that releasing now would be problematic.
If you recall when Microsoft announced that the Xbox One would be the first video game console to come to China since that country lifted its 14-year ban, the firm promised "games, online education and fitness experiences" specifically aimed at the China market. And in July, when it revealed the now-aborted September launch date, it noted that over 25 developers were building over 70 Xbox One games and that it was working with its partner BeSTV to deliver entertainment content such as "blockbuster movies, sports, documentaries and on-demand TV programs, fitness and exclusive, locally developed applications."
Getting to China quickly is a big deal for Microsoft, as the Xbox One trails the Sony PlayStation 4 by a wide and ever-growing margin. China should quickly establish itself as one of, if not the, biggest video game markets on earth, with over 500 million gamers already.
Obviously, it's not just about China. This month, Microsoft is finally, belatedly, launching Xbox One in dozens of new markets, including Belgium, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey and United Arab Emirates, and Argentina and now China will follow later in the year.