China has now allowed Nintendo to sell its first Switch console game in the country, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, moving it one step closer to an official launch of the Nintendo Switch product (via Reuters).
Nintendo has struggled to integrate with the Chinese market due to complex commercial regulations and a required local partner to distribute its products. An example of its attempts to circumvent China’s console ban is the iQue Player. This is a console created from a collaboration with Nintendo and Taiwanese-American entrepreneur Wei Yen, and it supports Nintendo 64 games. It therefore allowed Chinese players to enjoy a selection of Nintendo’s games on an officially licensed console produced within the country.
In 2014, China lifted its decade-long ban on console games. Previously, Nintendo hardware and games could only be found through unauthorised distribution platforms. But it’s not just Nintendo that has encountered a number of roadblocks in China: in 2015, Sony began to sell PlayStation 4 hardware but claimed that Chinese censorship legislation were hampering its commercial success.
In April, Tencent Holdings and Nintendo engaged in a partnership which seemed to imply that things were moving and shaking in an optimistic direction. Since then, news on how the Japanese gaming giant was getting on in China was sporadic. However, last week, a Nintendo Switch store on Alibaba’s Tmall e-commerce platform popped up. It’s got 12,000 followers despite showing no Nintendo products for sale. And of course, yesterday the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television in China released a statement that affirmed that Nintendo may distribute one game within the country.
It’s just one game and it’s New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, which isn’t the first game that comes to my mind when I think ‘Switch’. Nevertheless, it is a significant step towards a possible official launch of the Nintendo Switch console in China. Imaginably it would be dependent on the sales statistics of New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe, but the Brits liked it a lot, which hopefully bodes well for new Chinese players.