BEIJING – Microsoft Corp. is forming a video-game venture with a Chinese company to capitalize on proposed free-trade rules that would end a 13-year ban on foreign companies selling consoles in the worlds largest nation.
Microsoft and BesTV New Media Co., a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group, formed a $79 million gaming venture, the Chinese company announced in a statement to Shanghais stock exchange last week. BesTV will invest $40.29 million for a 51 percent stake, while Microsoft will invest $38.71 million for the rest, according to the filing.
Consoles such as Microsofts Xbox 360, Nintendos Wii U and Sonys PlayStation were banned by China in 2000 to protect youths from the perceived corrupting influence of video games. They turned to online games, including Tencent Holdings League of Legends, and game consoles are on a list of items to be liberalized when Shanghais free-trade zone opens, probably Tuesday, according to a draft plan seen by Bloomberg News.
We believe there is great market potential and partnership opportunities here, Joanna Li, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Microsoft, said in an email Tuesday. This is the first step of many to come for Microsoft and BesTV, and we look forward to exploring new opportunities for bringing entertainment offerings to China.