China Welcomes Sale Of Nintendo Switch

Close up of the Nintendo Switch console displayed at the Tokyo Game Show, 2017
Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images

China will be opening the doors to sales of the Nintendo Switch, which will give the company greater access to one of the world’s biggest video game markets, CNN says. Currently, the console is not yet available via official channels in China. The report also says that since the announcement, Nintendo’s shares have risen 14 percent in Tokyo.

Chinese authorities have granted permission for Tencent (TCEHY) – a Chinese multinational investment holding company founded in 1998 – to begin distributing the Switch console. Additionally, the internet company has also been given the approval to sell a game from the Super Mario Bros. series.

At the moment, gamers in China only have limited access to consoles that are often expensive and only available through imported “gray markets,” which include online retailers such as Alibaba’s Tmall. This latest development could create potential for console sales in the major video game market. It could also see the doors being opened for other popular gaming franchises, such as Pokemon.

According to a report from a market research firm, China’s revenue for the video game market hit $38 million in 2018. Serkan Toto, founder of the Tokyo consultancy company Kantan Games, said that investors hope “Nintendo can build a meaningful business” in China, adding that the approval could be a “mouth-watering” appeal for investors and China’s mobile gaming industry.

“Nintendo sits on the gaming world’s most valuable and unique [intellectual property] treasure trove, and it can unlock it now for Chinese users.”

Hands hold a Switch controller as they play Mario Kart 8
  Neilson Barnard / Getty Images

However, the gaming market in China is not without its risks. In 2018, stock prices for Tencent dropped after regulators froze approvals for smartphone games. In August 2018, China’s Ministry of Education said that the country was looking to implement new rules which would limit the time children spent playing video games.

While the Nintendo Switch has proven popular since its worldwide launch in March 2017, demand has been waning, according to sources. In February, Nintendo announced its target annual sales for the console were 17 million, down from 20 million.

The console itself is a “hybrid” device, which allows it to be used both as a home console and a mobile platform. Games that have been launched have proven to be huge successes, with the likes of The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Pokemon: GO, and Mario Kart 8 selling 10 million units each. As of December 2018, more than 32 million units have been sold worldwide.

A spokesperson for Nintendo has yet to release an official statement about the new approval.