China gets Xbox One, Will the Game industry change?

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evilkinggumby
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Wed Oct 08, 2014 2:09 pm

In recent weeks I have seen 2 interesting articles pop up:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/vi ... e-Consoles

Which details that China will actually allow the Xbox One to be sold and played in China, with about 10 downloadable games to start and another 70 pending approval.

And then this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/0 ... mg00000015

To me it sounds like microsoft had this in mind all along, and a lot of the design, features, and limitsations of the system were geared not at the U.S> or EU markets but at the down-the-road chinese market, where there is little competition in terms of consoles, and a all-in-one system for livingrooms (when partnered with a major cable company in China) would be most desireable. Having all games for the system be digital through the Xbox Live store helps delay/avoid rampant pirating and also confines games allowed to only those approved by the Chinese government.

Consider that the population of china is about 1 billion people larger that the U.S. . (As of 2013 they had appx 1.3 billion vs the US having 316 million) and this massive population has not had access to consoles YET. Thats a HUGE potential sales market. Like.. frighteningly massive.

According to the Essential Gaming Facts for 2014 about 59% of americans play video games. If that same percentage were to carry to China you're looking at about 885,000,000 potential gamers. Even if you cut that in HALF you'd still surpass or replicate the kinds of sales figured you could see in the US(and so potentially double the revenue of a games release).

Then consider that if games are only ever released to China via digital, publishers would have complete control and licensing of their games and none of this "i should own the physical copy" crap gamers talk about nowadays. Kinect always on and watching? I am sure the Chinese government would LOVE that feature...

Really it is a brilliant strategy and I don't blame the industry for going in this direction. What I fear most about it all is that you also have a huge market, one that could potentially drive the entire console/gaming industry (sony plans to sell there too a few months or so after the xbone) in different directions. If you read the Escapist article about this, you'll notice China has a number of strict regulations for games allowed on their consoles. My fear is we see games slowly begin to reshape to best market to China since that could end up being the largest pool of consumers (and so gross profit). the list is:
  • Gambling Gambling-related content or game features.
    Anything that violates China's constitution.
    Anything that threatens China's national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.
    Anything that harms the nation's reputation, security, or interests.
    Anything that instigates racial/ethnic hatred, or harms ethnic traditions and cultures.
    Anything that violates China's policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions.
    Anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use, violence, or gambling.
    Anything that harms public ethics or China's culture and traditions.
    Anything that insults, slanders, or violates the rights of others.
    Other content that violates the law.
You'll notice there's a lot in there that would have to be worked out, and I do see the possibility of having it added back (or left in) for other countries. But I also could see art styles, methods of storytelling, themes, characters, and overall game mechanics shifting to the chinese demographic. Would we see as many jrpg's? would we see as many sandbox games? FPS's?

Really, I will admit I'm ignorant of what Chinese gamers would prefer, and in many ways I would expect it to be fairly similar to what WE appreciate. But that ban on content could significantly alter the market if greed drives everything.

and in the gaming industry, greed drives everything.

Except GoaT. :) though if GoaT ends up being a big hit on the Xbox One and is considered "ok" for China, it could be a HUGE seller for Seith and really solidify his ability to create more of these games. That one idea really sounds.. amazing. GoaT doesn't really feature anything worth censoring, far as I can tell. So he could continue the game as he wanted unrestricted. It's almost like he KNEW this was coming and prepared for it.. lol

What do you think? If the industry changed, would you be ok losing things listed above? Would you continue to game if the industry pushed ever farther towards pure-digital distribution?
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Vallug
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Wed Oct 08, 2014 7:23 pm

I respect that China's culture prefers to shelter the population from more morbid or inappropriate themes. I've noticed that developers, especially big ones, reuse the same themes and story elements and it just makes the newer games so droll (I'm looking at you Assassin's Creed).
Plenty of Indie developers, however, have the capacity to fall within China's restrictions and become unbelievable games. The newest one's I can think of are things like No Man's Sky, Oni and the Blind Forest and Little Big Planet.
These games ditch violence and hostile attitudes and focus more on beautiful lives and issues rather than beating the living snot out of an "enemy".
I suppose I'm just saying that a shift from the typical game formula would be appreciated.
But I do love a good fps as much as the next guy.
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david
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Wed Oct 08, 2014 8:30 pm

Vallug wrote:I suppose I'm just saying that a shift from the typical game formula would be appreciated. But I do love a good fps as much as the next guy.
I'm in the same situation, looking to play (and make) fun, original games with worthwhile themes... however, I keep returning to the basic shooter mechanic, because it IS satisfying (and I say this with regret).

Imho, compared to the average Chinese salary, the XBox One is still expensive, but it could become a status-driven success among the current generation of -more affluent- Chinese gamers. It will be interesting to see which games are hits in China, compared to the rest of the world. There is now a sizable Chinese games production industry, with costs that are lower (about 70% lower) than the west.

It would be hilarious if GoaT was a success in China, and it would be awesome if this popularity helped to fuel other titles! I don't think GoaT has any themes that would bother a Chinese censor :ugeek:

From my time in China (3 years there, and also 3 years in Hong Kong - which is nearby but quite different), the most popular titles by far were international and locally-made fantasy MMORGs... and Counterstrike... illegal copies of which were constantly played in internet cafes. Just to say that there is a VERY loose approach to the copyright of games/movies/tv shows in China, and Asia-wide.
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