Microsoft’s Xbox One, the first video game console slated for official release in China after 13 years, is already attracting criticism from mainland consumers due to its price point and pack-in games, which differ substantially from the Taiwanese release.
The console will be available for purchase in both mainland China and Taiwan on September 23, Chinese video game news portal Netease Games  reported.
Despite launching on the same day, the mainland China and Taiwanese versions of the console differ substantially. The mainland China version features a simplified Chinese interface and will come bundled with a variety of made-in-China games and Neverwinter Online, a free-to-play title originally released in 2013.
The regular edition of the console will retail for 3,699 yuan (HK$4,700) while a limited edition complete with Microsoft’s motion-tracking Kinect add-on will cost 4,299 yuan (HK$5,420)
In contrast, the Taiwanese release includes a traditional Chinese interface and comes with Titanfall, a highly acclaimed title published by American company Electronic Arts.
The regular edition costs 12,980 Taiwan dollars (HK$3,350) while the limited edition, which comes with the Kinect add-on and the extra games Dance Central Spotlight and Kinect Sport Rivals, will sell for 15,980 Taiwan dollars (HK$4,130).
The difference in price may be due to higher import taxes in mainland China on foreign electronics.
The mainland previously instituted a 13 year ban on all foreign-made video game consoles in 2000, only lifting the ban after the opening of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) in September of last year.
Chinese gamers on Netease Games were quick to bemoan what many saw as an “inferior” and “expensive” mainland China release.
“The price here is far more than it is [in Taiwan], plus the games we’re getting are far worse,” one commentator wrote. “I’m just going to try and buy the imported Taiwanese version.”
“Microsoft’s never cared about the Chinese buyers of its products,” another wrote.
Despite the 13-year ban, video game consoles like the original Xbox have long been available for purchase on China’s grey market. Data from research firm Niko Partners suggests that around one million consoles imported from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other countries are sold to savvy mainland customers every year.
Microsoft is hoping to stem off grey market sales by partnering with local company BesTV New Media, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group, for the Xbox One’s Chinese release. According to BesTV statements, the company hopes to sell 50 million Xbox One units within China over the next five years.
Yusuf Mehdi, vice-president of marketing for the Xbox One, said in a July press conference that there were "nearly half a billion people playing games" on the mainland, making the region particularly important to Microsoft.