It happened a week later than originally planned, but Microsoft has launched the Xbox One in China, ending a 14-year ban on video game consoles in that country. As important for Microsoft, perhaps, Xbox One also beat Sony's rival PlayStation 4 to China, the world's largest market for video games.
"This milestone is significant for both our partnership with China and our global expansion plan," Microsoft head of Xbox Phil Spencer is credited with saying. "Every new market launch is unique and we're grateful to our fans for their patience and enthusiasm. We will continue to work closely with our partner BesTV to bring exciting games, entertainment and app experiences to delight gamers across China."
With the launch in China, Xbox One is now available in 41 markets around the globe. Fully 29 of those markets came online in September.
But China is of course different. And while Microsoft may not have shipped as many China-centric game and entertainment titles at launch time as it had originally hoped, the launch was met by Apple-style lines at retail locations around the country. To give you an idea of how huge this is, the console is now available at more than 4,000 retail locations in 37 cities throughout China.
That said, Xbox One won't come cheap in China: The entry-level (Kinect-less) console costs about $600, while the higher-end version comes in at $700. Those prices are each about $200 higher than comparable consoles in the US.
Microsoft originally planned to launch Xbox One last week, on October 23. But in late September, it suddenly delayed the launch, promising only to reschedule by the end of 2014. China's arbitrary regulatory requirements are still the prime suspect for this delay, but Microsoft was able to reschedule for September 29, less than a week after the original launch date.