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Microsoft to launch Xbox One in China in days

An excited fan shows off his new Xbox One after purchasing it at midnight from a Microsoft store in Fashion Valley Mall, in San Diego, California, on November 22, 2013/AFP

Microsoft to launch Xbox One in China in days/AFP

SHANGHAI, September 23- US technology giant Microsoft will launch its Xbox One in China on September 29, becoming the first game console to enter the market in 14 years, it said Tuesday, in an apparent reversal of a delay announced just three days ago.

In January, China formally authorised the domestic sale of game consoles made in its first free trade zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, ending a more than decade long ban.

Microsoft previously said it would start delivery of consoles on Tuesday, but on Saturday announced a delay potentially until the end of the year without giving a precise date or reason.

A new statement from Microsoft and its Chinese partner BesTV New Media issued on Tuesday suggested government approvals of games might have contributed to the delay.

“After receiving government approval for the first wave of games, we will launch with the first ten games now and continue our work to bring more blockbuster games and a broad offering of entertainment and app experiences to the platform in the weeks and months to come,” Xie Enwei, general manager of Xbox China, said in the statement.

Under the rules of the FTZ, set up a year ago to pilot economic reforms, games must pass inspection by cultural authorities, who conceivably could censor content they deem to be obscene, violent or politically sensitive.

Xie added more than 70 titles were in the pipeline to bring to China.

Microsoft beats rivals like Japan’s Sony, which makes the PlayStation console, and Nintendo’s Wii into the Chinese market.

But illegal machines, smuggled into the country, are widely available from online vendors and electronics markets.

In China, Microsoft will sell the Xbox One for 3,699 yuan ($602) or 4,299 yuan ($699) with the Kinect sensor, the statement said. Those levels are far higher than its US website prices of around $400 for the basic console and about $500 with Kinect — which can obey motion and voice commands.

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Analysts say Microsoft is targeting high-end users in China with the Xbox One, but the prices might prevent it from reaching a wider market.

The 10 approved games include several sporting titles, such as Forza Motorsport 5 and Powerstar Golf, according to the statement.

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