China Xbox Ones Unlocked

An example of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and GTA V installed on a China market Xbox One.

An example of Halo: The Master Chief Collection and GTA V installed on a China market Xbox One.

APRIL 8, 2015 • This week a firmware update went out to China market Xbox Ones, after which consumers there reported their consoles were no longer region locked and screenshots of international versions of Xbox One games running on Chinese systems soon appeared. Microsoft Corp. and its local partner, BesTV, have not officially commented on the update. The disabling of the region lock on imported discs comes less than a month after the unlocked PlayStation 4 launched in China. The change puts the Xbox One on an equal footing with the PS4 where content access is concerned. In related news, the Xbox One is also about to see some important government-approved Western titles. According to postings by online retailer JD.com, NBA 2K15 and Just Dan 2015 will be released in May, with Halo: The Master Chief Collection expected in June.

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Impact: When the PlayStation 4 arrived unlocked in China, DFC was surprised. Keeping out undesirable depictions of violence, nudity and the occult often featured in Western titles was a position we did not expect Chinese regulators would budge on. But once Sony Computer Entertainment won the day on the issue, it was only a matter of time before the same conditions were extended to the Xbox One. Microsoft and Sony’s partners in China are both divisions of the same state-owned enterprise, so it wouldn’t be fair for one group to have such an advantage over the other. As with the PS4, we fully expect the ability to install games from international discs will make the Xbox One a more viable product in China – how viable depends on numerous factors. Next week DFC Intelligence will release it’s latest forecast for the China market. In our view the upcoming arrival of Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a watershed event. Halo is the Xbox’s signature franchise and this package includes four installments. To have a package of this stature officially available gives consumers a major reason to desire owning an Xbox One. A lot depends on a steady stream of compelling content being approved for Chinese consumption, but the arrival of Halo is a major beachhead.