Microsoft’s Xbox One console will launch in China on Sept. 23 for 3,699 RMB or $600 U.S. A special Day One edition with Kinect is available for preorder at a cost of 4,299 RMB, or roughly $700.
The Xbox One has the distinction of being “the first console approved for sale in China through the Shanghai Free Trade Zone,” according to Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing for Microsoft Devices and Studios. Established in September, the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone effectively lifts China’s 14-year ban on video game consoles.
The impending launch could also help the hardware make gains against rival Sony’s market-leading PlayStation 4 (PS4).
“We’re dedicated to earning millions of fans in China by working with BesTV to deliver an all-in-one games and entertainment experience,” said Mehdi in a statement. BesTV, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group, is an IPTV provider that boasts 16 million users.
On April 16, Sony reported that it had sold 7 million PS4s worldwide since its launch Nov. 15. Microsoft, meanwhile, said that it shipped just 5 million Xbox Ones since it hit store shelves a week later on Nov. 22.
There are encouraging signs that the gap is narrowing. Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that Xbox One sales had doubled in the U.S. after the company released a cheaper version of the hardware, without the Kinect motion sensor, that costs $399—in line with the PS4’s price tag. Previously, Microsoft bundled Kinect with the Xbox One, costing buyers at least $499.
In China, the Xbox One will feature a localized interface, translated content, local payments and BesTV integration. Gamers can look forward to a free Xbox Live Gold subscription through March 2015 and Special Edition Pack that includes the games Powerstar Golf and Neverwinter Online. “We have made significant investments in China to deliver a tailored Xbox One experience for our fans,” said Enwei Xie, general manager of Xbox China, in a statement.
Launch titles include Forza Motorsport 5: Racing Game of the Year edition, Kinect Sports Rivals, Powerstar Golf, Zoo Tycoon, and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, with more forthcoming. “Twelve of the world’s largest developers including Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and 2K are working to bring their gaming favorites to China,” stated Microsoft.
Additionally, Microsoft has lined up 13 Chinese developers to spur the local market. They include Perfect World, Gamebar, Yingpei Games, Snail Games, NetEase and Tencent, said the company. In total, more than 25 developers are working on bringing more than 70 games to China.
To give the country’s independent developers a bit of a head start, the company also announced the launch of its [email protected] program in China on July 30. Apart from targeting home-grown talent, “this expansion opens up the opportunity for developers around the world to publish their games in China,” noted Microsoft.