Microsoft will begin selling the Xbox One videogame console in China in September, sources familiar with the plans told Re/code.
An announcement is expected as early as Tuesday evening.
Update: And here it is — a video confirming the September launch, posted to the official Xbox YouTube channel.
“In China, there are over half a billion gamers, so the opportunity to create globally and locally created content to delight millions and millions of of gaming families everywhere is something that we’re really passionate about,” Microsoft CVP of devices and studios Yusuf Mehdi says in the video.
Update 2: Aaaaaaand it’s down. The video is now marked as “private” on YouTube.
Update 3: It’s back. Ta-da:
Last year, Microsoft struck a manufacturing partnership with BesTV. Such partnerships with non-Chinese companies were allowed under a newly created “Shanghai Free Trade Zone” aimed at encouraging new foreign investments.
China had banned gaming consoles since 2000, out of fear that interactive entertainment would cause physical or developmental harm to children, leading to a thriving PC gaming market. The country said earlier this year that it would temporarily lift the ban on the sale of foreign consoles, a move that opens the world’s most populous country to firms including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. The decision permits foreign companies to make game consoles in Shanghai’s free trade zone and sell the devices throughout the country.
Last week, the country decreed that it would restrict the types of games available on consoles, censoring titles that, for example, promote “obscenity, drug use, violence or gambling.”
China has been gradually opening the doors to western entertainment. In 2012, it reached a deal that would increase the number of foreign films that could be exhibited in that country.
Since it launched in November, the Xbox One has lagged behind its chief rival, the PlayStation 4, in worldwide sales. As of its most recently quarterly earnings report, Microsoft has sold five million units of the new consoles into stores, while Sony reports it has sold seven million PS4s through to consumers.
Microsoft did not have an immediate comment for this story. The company previously announced that the Xbox One would launch in Japan on Sept. 4.
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