Business / Gadgets

Local joint venture launches gaming device

By Gao Yuan ( Updated: 2014-03-19 19:18

A joint venture by ZTE Corp and game developer The9 Ltd on Wednesday launched an XBox-like gaming device in a bid to gain control of Chinese living rooms ahead of the official release of overseas home consoles in the country.

The device, named Fun Box, is a combination of a television set-top box and a game platform, said Zhu Jun, chairman of The9.

The company plans to sell at least 3 million devices in this year, said the company, adding e-commerce website is expected to account for around one-third of the sales target.

"ZTE has been eyeing China's gaming and entertainment market for a long time," said Zeng Xuezhong, executive vice-president of ZTE, a Guangdong province-based telecom equipment maker.

ZTE is mainly in charge of the hardware development for the device and The9 ill handle software installation.

ZTE's global sales network will also help to sell the console outside of China, said Zhu, adding areas with high Chinese populations are the target markets.

The company declined to disclose further details about its international plans.

The console will run games developed by the world leading game developers, including local developer Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd and the US giant Electronic Arts Inc.

The company did not disclose the number of games available on the Fun Box.

Selling for around $100, the gadget will enter the market by April.

Zhu said the Chinese company's open-source gaming console will eventually beat overseas platforms such as Xbox and Sony Corp's PlayStation series.

Competition for living-room entertainment platforms heated up this year after the government lifted a 14-year ban on gaming devices late last year.

Products developed by overseas companies have to enter the Chinese mainland market through the newly appointed free trade zone in Shanghai.

Developers have eyed high returns from China's gaming market since last year.

Local tech companies, including Xiaomi Corp and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, have joined the competition to gain a large market share before overseas products hit the stores in China.

Xiaomi's latest move in the sector includes a $20 million injection into local game developer Westhouse Group in mid February.

"The home console market is set to be one of the most-focused markets for developers," said Pang Yiming, an analyst with research company Analysys International.

"With Internet companies actively joining the game, the race is set to be tough this year," Pang said.

China and the United States will contribute about 60 percent of global revenue in the market by 2016, Pang estimated.

The number of video game players in China reached nearly 5 million in 2013, according to a report from the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association.

Total revenue of the nation's game market was more than 83 billion yuan in 2013, a jump of 38 percent year-on-year, the association said.

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