Next month, Lenovo, one of China’s most important IT companies, will launch a home entertainment machine. The eBox, which is known as “China Kinect”, is expected to capture a large part of the console market, and it is known as the world’s top three video game companies. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are not only worried but expectant.

Hey... This is really people don’t know what to say. Certainly something is distorted, either the mindset of these multinational companies or the unusual market.

On June 15, 2000, the General Office of the State Council transmitted the Notice on Launching Special Opinions on the Management of Electronic Business Places (hereinafter referred to as Document 44). Article VI of the document clearly stipulates: “The domestic electronic game equipment and its zero, The production and sales of accessories will stop immediately, and any enterprise or individual may no longer engage in the production and sales of domestic electronic game devices and their zeros and accessories.” This means that all consoles licensed for sale in Mainland China are non-compliant. .

This is a regulation and policy that regulates the operation of electronic business sites, but because it clearly stipulates that it is not allowed to operate and sell electronic game devices in China, home game machines are also kept out of the formal market. It is ironic that, in 2009, large-scale electronic game consoles were allowed to be openly produced and sold, but home consoles have not been mentioned in any policy.

Until August 9, 2010, United Green Dynamics was established in Beijing. The company, which specializes in home console game products, is jointly invested by Lenovo Group, Legend Holdings and Legend Capital. Its eBox product will be launched in May 2011. According to the leaked news, the eBox is like a slightly rough somatosensory game machine that combines a handle and a camera.

This made the three game companies excited. For some of them, the main reason why the Chinese game console market does not abolish the ban on home models is that the world’s major home consoles are firmly held in the hands of three multinational game console manufacturers. And China’s own company is doing nothing in this area. “Protecting China’s own online gaming market is also no reason why people no longer care about home game consoles,” said a person in charge of an unknown gaming machine manufacturer.

He said that the three major game companies are now waiting to see Lenovo's eBox sales. "If (eBox) allows sales, then it will be seen as one of the main signs of policy loosening," when his company will consider introducing game consoles to the Chinese market in this name.

The staff of another game console company told the "First Financial Weekly" that even if the Lenovo product is approved, the company will not use it as a reason to ask for equal treatment, because "the government's attitude towards Lenovo and foreign game makers is impossible. same". He said that the company will wait until the policy is really released before entering the market and will no longer accept the practice of cleaning up the ball.

In addition to the title of home entertainment, another attempt has been for manufacturers to actively engage more with policy makers. "Government public relations are necessary, such as actively participating in the government's exhibition on the animation industry, or sponsoring college animation industry courses." Said the person in charge of anonymity. His daily work also includes walking to the ministries and exchanging opinions with each other.

Another sign that policy makers see as loosening of policy is that official research institutes are leading the development of a gaming industry standard. "As long as the Petri dish and the magnifier are taken out, everything may be on the table." said the game manufacturer's responsible person.

The China Electronics Standardization Institute established a working group on December 27, 2010 to conduct technical research on game consoles. "But now is not the formulation of standards," said Zhao Jinghua, the secretary general of the game console standards working group. "It is only a discussion of the console technology, and we hope that we can formulate a kind of hardware and software parameters."

These parameters include specifications for video games, hardware interfaces for various machines, and technical specifications such as security. Zhao Jinghua told CBN Weekly that if standards are introduced, it must be an open standard. Members of all working groups can see the text and can vote and comment. "It will not be national protectionist standards."

Everything that happens on the market is as vibrant as it is at the policy level.

The console has just set a Guinness World Record for consumer electronics. On March 11, 2011, the Guinness World Record Organization announced on its official website that Microsoft’s Xbox 360’s latest somatosensory peripheral, Kinect, was rated as ever since it sold 8 million units in the first two months and 13.33 million units per day. The fastest-selling electronic consumer products exceeded the same period of time after Apple’s iPhone and iPad products were released.

Users in China have also contributed to this sales record, but not in the usual licensed form, but through a well-known non-compliance method - parallel imports.

The game consoles in the hands of Chinese buyers need to go through such a journey: strong wholesalers from Hong Kong (as tax-free paradise, game consoles are tax-free in Hong Kong, and about 5% of the consumption tax in Japan), store them in A warehouse in Hong Kong, with the assistance of a special customs clearance company, passed Shenzhen, Shantou or Dongguan Customs before entering the mainland market. These customs clearance companies will remove various obstacles for customs declaration of the game consoles, at the price of approximately 30 yuan per kilogram of goods paid by wholesalers to these customs clearance companies. Then the wholesalers handed the goods to the sellers of the parallel stores and finally arrived at the hands of the Chinese buyers.

The most famous parallel game market is located on Gulou Street in Beijing. The business is also very prosperous on the Internet (for example, chain stores such as Taobao or video buses). The boss of Beijing Chenguang playing with Longxiang video game claims that the latest Nintendo handheld 3DS shipment is about 150 units a month. When these underground markets flourished, they assumed a quarter of the global shipment of Sony PSP game consoles.

"Everybody knows this market is big, but the question is who dares to act rashly?" said Chen Shuming, chief representative of the Beijing representative office of Sony Computer Entertainment (hereinafter referred to as SCE).

Sony has experienced failures in this area. SCE introduced the PS2 in the name of the multi-functional entertainment machine in January 2004 (the PS2 had the ability to play DVDs, etc.) but eventually abandoned it because of the existence of the 44th file. The PS2 was eventually qualified as a game console. .

This also made them more cautious in the face of the media. As of the time of this press release, the company did not respond to the request of the "First Financial Weekly" interview.

The policy has exposed China's game console market with a strange feature. This market has forbidden the public sale of game consoles through documents due to fear of Internet cafe fires and distorted teenagers' hearts. However, allowing the existence of online games and the lifting of the ban on large-scale game consoles have made the business of Internet cafes and video game centers prosperous. The game consoles that have been “wrongly injured” by this policy are still being banned.

What's more, the current home consoles are no longer the same. After the Wii opened up a new market for somatosensory game consoles, both Sony and Microsoft’s follow-up game models used fitness games to attract more Light Users, instead of favoring action or RPG (Role Playing) games. Core or main player. Educational games, such as turn-based fitness games that focus on home entertainment, have become popular.

"Now the game consoles are less and less like the traditional game consoles. It does look like some kind of fitness entertainment equipment." Readers for the majority of electronic game consoles (especially home game enthusiasts) The group’s editor of “24 Grids” Ge Yangxi expressed to “First Financial Weekly”.

The game console is getting more cool and cool. As a peripheral that can be controlled by sound and motion instead of operating the handle, Kinect is considered to achieve real human-computer interaction, although sometimes there are some minor flaws, such as identifying people's hang when playing racing games. There are also many mistakes in blocking.

Because of the earthquake in Japan, Sony said in an April 6 public interview that the NGP intending to release this year's Christmas will likely postpone the release. This game console is also highly hoped for by the industry. It has faster speed and larger screen, and for the first time, it allows users of mobile phones (mainly Android systems) to own the Play Station game library and the PlayStation authentication system. Game software. This is the first time that game consoles have tried cross-platform content push services.

The game console looks like a proving ground for a new technology. Artificial intelligence technology such as human-computer interaction is used on Kinect; Nintendo's previously released handheld 3DS tried naked-eye 3D technology; because it has the function of a media player - You can watch a variety of Blu-ray or 3D movies on the PS3, and the boundaries of the game console are becoming more and more blurred, at least it looks like it is no longer just for gaming.

But Chinese users can only satisfy their appetite for these novelties hanging in the non-compliant gray channel.

One view is that the profit models of game companies, including Sony and Microsoft, mainly rely on software to make money, and hardware is not profitable, which ultimately hinders their confidence in entering the Chinese market. Because China did not establish an effective game software copyright mechanism, the selling price of game software, which costs about RMB 300 in the international market, is usually only RMB 3 or RMB 5 at Gulou Street. Therefore, in fact, these game machine manufacturers really have limited interest in entering this market.

But Zhai Shuming said, “SCE hopes to enter this market very much. It can be seen from the efforts made in 2004. According to our internal sales data, in a country where there is also piracy, such as other Asian markets, a work can have the same Together with sales of hundreds of thousands of copies.” Yu Shuming stated that he fully believes in the spending power of the Chinese market.

The App Store model created by Apple Inc., for example, allows game software makers to directly upload the games they make and users to pay online for download, which can also be another effective way to prevent piracy, although most game makers are not yet available. Accept the sale of games on their web platform in an open platform.

Sony’s latest financial report shows that Sony’s gaming console business performed well in the third quarter. “Network product and service business profits increased by 26.3 billion yen to 45.7 billion yen. PS3 hardware costs have dropped significantly and software sales have increased dramatically. This is the main reason for the increase in profits." Nintendo’s Wii has also been keeping single profit, coupled with NDS handhelds, making Nintendo's profit margin has been maintained at about 35%; and Kinect has also raised the Microsoft camp after the sale Capacity. As for the Xbox, as early as the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2007 to 2008, which was announced in June 2008, it has already achieved profitability.

Therefore, from the perspective of oneself, it is now the best time for the three giants to enter the Chinese market. The question is whether this market can allow them to enter, even if they enter in other names, or pay more.

“If policy makers still have concerns, it is entirely possible to force us to adopt Chinese-language games by supplementing the agreement.” In view of the head of an opportunistic game maker who does not wish to be identified, as long as it is possible to enter this market, all There are solutions to the problem.

Earlier in 2011, Liang Nianjian, president of Microsoft Greater China, told China Business Weekly that he hoped Kinect could be introduced into China in some way. He said that in fact his biggest concern is not piracy but how to enter this new market. This shows that the problem remains stuck at the policy level, even if their relationship with the government is recognized as being the best among the three console manufacturers.

Nintendo, another well-known manufacturer of home consoles, is also looking for alternative ways to enter China. "The Wii has not been licensed, because it can't pass the review." Ke Yu, public relations staff of Shenyou Technology Co., Ltd., said that in 2005, the company started selling handheld NDSs in the name of learning machines. Shenyou Technology is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nintendo in China. Wii is Nintendo's best-selling home console introduced in 2006 and is the first home console to introduce somatosensory control. But unfortunately, the unique user experience cannot guarantee its smooth entry into the Chinese market.

Of course, even if they can come in, it may not necessarily succeed. "Even if we let go of the controls now, their best time may have passed," said Ge Yangjun of "24 Grids." In its view, the biggest opportunity for these home consoles in China is only fitness games for non-core players, rather than the complicated and sophisticated games that have won with excellent visual sense.

"Users have also become accustomed to spending 20 yuan for a month, and can get more recognition of online games," Ge Yangxi said, "Internet games may be more market." Ge Yang Jun believes that the extreme decline of the video game magazine industry proves The original core game market for home consoles has shrunk to an embarrassing degree.

But Shanghai's veteran game player "biscuits" doesn't think so. He also runs home game consoles. “Foreign personal home network conditions are good, and many games for home computers can be played on the Internet. This can achieve the same kind of recognition of online games, but the picture quality of home game consoles is much better.”

"The problem is that if the price of home consoles is still higher than parallel imports after the controls are released, and the price of console software has not yet come down, then it really does not bring about better sales." The article said, "Although liberalization means better after-sales service, if the price deviates from parallel imports too much, then it cannot promote mainstream sales." Sony's PS3 price was once considered to be higher than the major international market in 2003. About 30% to 50%, and eventually affect the enthusiasm of the parallel importation of mainstream goods on the Gulou Street.

And another question is whether it can shorten the time the game is on the market.

The problem of price can be solved by manufacturers, but the shortening of the approval process can only depend on whether the policy can foster home games just as it did for online games. Policy makers need to be aware that if they are liberalized, it is not just these multinational corporations that benefit.

Liu Yang, president of the web game platform vendor 51wan, said that many domestic companies can also participate in the game platform. “When the amount of Internet surfing on the console is large enough, there will be a game format similar to web games.” It is like opening a large scale Before the game console was controlled, it was believed that this market was firmly controlled by foreign video game machine manufacturers such as Sega, but after deregulation, the world’s largest production base for large-scale game consoles is now located in Panyu, Guangdong.

On March 3, 2011, the netizen “lygzql” posted a message to the video game tribal forum where video game players gathered that “the Chinese game market will certainly not be permanently closed, but there will be a short period of time before opening”. He predicted that this period of time will be the golden period of development of Green Motion.

In any case, before the arrival of May, all console manufacturers still need to hold their breath for a while. Lenovo declined to disclose any information about eBox prior to the conference because it was "confidential"; as to whether the model has been approved by the Ministry of Culture and whether this clearly means loose policy, it was described by the company's public relations department. It is "highly confidential" and will not be disclosed.