Nintendo is teaming with Chinese video games giant Tencent to launch its latest game console, the Switch, in the China market.
Tencent will operate a localised version of the Switch’s online shop that will work with its hugely popular WeChat electronic payment system. It will also localise some of Nintendo’s most popular games and use its cloud and servers infrastructure to power the Japanese company’s online services in China.
The partnership was announced at a press conference during the ChinaJoy 2019 video games conference in Shanghai on Friday (August 2).
It’s expected that titles including Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (pictured) will be released with the console. However, it’s still unclear when exactly Chinese consumers will be able to buy the Switch and how much it will cost.
Although China is the world’s biggest games market, game consoles only account for a tiny sliver of the market, which is dominated by smartphone and PC games. Chinese authorities banned consoles outright in 2000, only lifting the ban in 2015, after which both PlayStation and Xbox were launched in China. However, neither has made much of a dent in the market.
More recently Chinese censors have slowed down the process of approving new video games, even taking a nine-month hiatus last year, hammering Tencent’s share price as the tech giant is heavily reliant on the games industry.
Nintendo previously made an unsuccessful attempt to enter the China market in 2003 through a joint venture called the iQue Player, which involved a controller that could be attached to a TV, rather than a console. But the system required owners to visit stores to download games.
In addition to its investment in Western game companies such as Riot and Epic, Tencent is responsible for some of China’s biggest games such as Honor Of Kings and PUBG Mobile.