In context: Now that Sony is out of the game with the discontinuance of its Vita handheld, Nintendo holds virtually 100 percent of the dedicated portable gaming market. Not one to rest on its laurels, the company is looking to expand the sector by moving into China with the help of Tencent.
Nintendo’s hybrid Switch console has undoubtedly been a tremendous success for the game maker. The portable has already surpassed the GameCube, Wii U, and the N64 in lifetime sales, and it is set to overtake the Super NES by the end of the year.
It appears now that upending SNES sales will be even easier for Mario and friends, as the company is prepared to launch the Switch to a massive audience of Chinese gamers.
On Wednesday, Nintendo announced it is releasing the handheld in China in precisely one week. Sales will be facilitated by the Chinese holding company Tencent, which has entered into a representative agreement with the company.
Tencent and Nintendo are also working with AAA partners listed below to bring additional third party titles to the China market.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) December 4, 2019
Also includes Chinese AAA partners such as Tencent's own Next Studio. pic.twitter.com/0hmuBdDjt4
The system will come bundled with a copy of New Super Mario Bros Deluxe U for 2,099 yuan (about $298). So far, the freebie title is the only game approved for sale in China. However, gaming analyst Daniel Ahmad tweeted that Mario Kart 8 and Super Mario Odyssey are already available for pre-order.
Ahmad also said that Nintendo and Tencent are working with both indie and AAA developers to bring content to the Chinese version of eShop controlled and run by Tencent. Of course, local studios will also be contributing to the game library with titles exclusive to China.
Games will be priced at RMB 299 (~$42) which is in line with regional pricing standards.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) December 4, 2019
Currently only NSMBU Deluxe is approved for sale. Others to release soon.
Locally developed titles like ICEY and Chinese Parents are also planned to release for the console. pic.twitter.com/bfnV7MnH2e
China is the world’s biggest gaming market (although the US is getting close), but most of the demographic plays on PC or mobile devices. There is only a small sliver that uses consoles purchased on the grey market. As such, Nintendo remains conservative about how the release will affect sales numbers.
“We have not factored the sales in China into our financial forecast for the current fiscal year, and 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 President and CEO Shuntaro Furukawa in an investors Q&A in November.
Still, offering the Switch to a virtually untapped region seems like a smart move that is bound to have decent returns beyond FY2019, which ends March 2020.
Pre-orders for the Chinese version of the Switch started today with the official release slated for December 10.