Japanese gaming giant Nintendo has teamed up with Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company, to launch a Chinese version of its Switch console even though China’s gaming industry mostly occurs on PCs and mobile devices.
Tencent has been granted approval to distribute Nintendo Switch on the mainland from December 10th, although pre-orders of the console have begun already, and the bundle will sell for 2,099 yuan ($298).
According to Reuters, the launch aims to establish Nintendo’s control over China’s grey market for the device and the package will include a one-year warranty and a copy of the popular game New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe.
Other hit titles, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Odyssey, are also expected to be released in China over the next few weeks while Nintendo’s handheld Switch Lite device is likely to launch in the Chinese market too.
Tencent’s role will be to help build simplified Chinese language versions of games, as well as cloud infrastructure for the Switch gaming services and to enable Nintendo eShop purchases to be made with WeChat Pay.
Daniel Ahmad, an analyst at Niko Partners, said the partnership with Tencent bodes well for Nintendo because it would sustain a pipeline that extends from its most popular in-house games to titles produced by local independent developers, who are familiar with the habits of Chinese gamers.
Ahmad also predicted that Nintendo would pose a serious challenge to Sony. “We believe that Nintendo Switch will replace the PlayStation 4 as the market leader in China by 2022 when accounting for both legal and grey market sales,” he said.
However, Nintendo itself has downplayed any immediate boost in sales. “Even if the launch does occur during the current fiscal year, we do not expect a significant impact on this year’s business results,” said Shuntaro Furukawa, president and CEO of Nintendo, in an address to investors last month.
Meanwhile, sales of Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite are booming in the US, and the company reported this week that it sold a combined total of 830,000 units over Thanksgiving week alone.
Sourced from Nintendo, Reuters, The Verge; additional content by WARC staff