It's been 14 years since Microsoft has sold an Xbox in China. But it seems the Chinese didn't miss it much. Microsoft’s eighth-generation Xbox One gaming console launched on Sept. 29, and the device sold around 100,000 units during its first week on the market, according to Chinese media reports translated by gaming site Kotaku.
That's not a lot in a country of more than 1.35 billion, but here's one reason sales are slow: The console is considerably more expensive in China, priced at $602 without the Kinect and $700 with the Kinect motion controller. In North America, the Xbox One is priced at $500 with the Kinect and $400 without the Kinect.
Microsoft’s device was the first foreign gaming console to reach China after the government ended a 14-year ban on foreign electronic entertainment devices in early 2014. It’s difficult to gauge how well the Xbox One is faring in the country since it can’t be compared to any console sales figures from the past 14 years. However, the device is selling considerably better in China than it is in Japan, where an estimated 23,500 units sold during its first week.
Microsoft even offered six months of free Xbox Live Gold subscriptions to early buyers in Japan, but the deal failed to pull in a large number of customers.
The device launched on Nov. 22 last year in North America and a number of European countries, selling 1 million units within 24 hours of its release. Microsoft had sold 5 million units of Xbox One to retailers as of April but has not updated numbers since then.
Last month, Microsoft delayed the launch of the Xbox One in mainland China by six days, telling fans it needed more time to improve the console before it was available to the public.
It will be interesting to see how future consoles sell in the country, since alterations to laws inside the Shanghai Free Trade Zone legalized the sale of foreign video game consoles just this year. Sony has not yet released its PlayStation 4 in the world's most populous nation and has not said whether it plans to.