For fifteen years, China was an untapped market for the mainstream video game industry. It wasn’t until 2015 when the country finally lifted its ban on video game consoles, and even then, a freeze on game approvals slowed the industry in 2018. In spite of these risks, Nintendo announced an unprecedented partnership with the gaming conglomerate Tencent to distribute the Nintendo Switch in China; the latter gained approval to sell the platform in Guangdong province around that time. Following a joint press conference at ChinaJoy in Shanghai, we finally have some details on the companies’ strategy for the Switch’s upcoming launch.
Uncharted Chinese territory
With Tencent at the helm, the industry giant will manage and maintain the Switch’s online infrastructure in China. On top of this, Tencent will adjust the eShop to accommodate their monetary service WeChat Pay. Tencent is also localizing key Nintendo titles like Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild into Simplified Chinese. At the time of writing, Nintendo and Tencent did not comment on pricing or release dates.
Of course, with Nintendo finally setting foot wholesale in the Chinese market, the company has ramped up its anti-piracy efforts. Earlier this week, two Chinese Switch piracy sites, including 91wii, got taken down.
I’m very curious to see how Nintendo and Tencent’s partnership will pan out. However, these developments leave me wondering about Nintendo’s other China-centric partnership with NVIDIA. Since 2017, Nintendo has been drip-feeding remastered versions of GameCube and Wii titles on the NVIDIA Shield; just last month, what’s arguably the definitive edition of Donkey Kong Country Returns became available to Chinese consumers.
In the meantime, I imagine there’s a lot of legal hurdles Nintendo and Tencent will have to jump through before the Switch is ready for launch in China. What do you think of this partnership? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.