Microsoft is adding new employees in China to help Chinese video game studios and publishers expand overseas through its Xbox, according to an executive at the US software giant’s gaming unit. The new team will help game developers in China “reach a wider global audience”, Rod Chang, senior director of Microsoft’s Asia Gaming department, said in a LinkedIn post last week. Chang was lead producer for Xbox games’ State of Decay and Skulls of the Shogun , and director for Minecraft’s China edition, before he moved to overseeing the Asia Gaming department in 2019. The new hires, reporting to Microsoft’s Xbox Gaming Ecosystem group, will include business strategy managers based in Shanghai, who will help local gaming partners release new content onto the console, according to job listings on the company’s website. The managers are expected to report to the senior director for Asia and will act as the primary contact for Microsoft’s gaming partners in China. Microsoft’s expansion comes at a time when many Chinese gaming developers are eyeing overseas markets for growth, as the Chinese gaming environment has become more difficult under harsh regulation. Regulators have not approved any new gaming licenses since last July and Chinese players under the age of 18 are restricted to no more than three hours of online games per week. Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Speculation over extended licensing freeze weighs on China’s video gaming sector Industry leaders including Tencent Holdings and NetEase have taken their own steps to expand overseas. Tencent, which runs the world's largest video gaming business by revenue, plans to open a new game development studio in Singapore under its TiMi Studio Group subsidiary. NetEase’s overseas sales accounted for 10 per cent of the company’s mobile games business during the second quarter of 2020, as company founder and chief executive William Ding Lei said it was “more confident and committed than ever” to extending its reach to a broader market. In 2021, the revenue generated by self-developed Chinese games in overseas markets reached US$18 billion, a year-on-year increase of 16.6 per cent from 2020, according to a report published by the state-backed Game Publishing Committee of the China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association. Key indicators, including user downloads, usage time and willingness to pay for games have maintained steady growth over the past five years, the report said. Shanghai is home to key players in China’s video gaming industry, including major gaming companies Bilibili, miHoYo, Lilith Games, Giant Network and XD. The recruitment plan also marks Microsoft’s latest effort to strengthen links between its flagship Xbox console and the world’s largest gaming industry. The US tech giant announced in January it would purchase Activision Blizzard for US$68.7 billion, a deal which is expected to help it expand its own offerings for the Xbox console and better compete with rival Sony’s PlayStation through the addition of Activision’s stable of popular titles. Consoles, however, have remained a small part of China’s video gaming market, as they were prohibited from sale until a 15-year government ban ended in 2015. Major console makers have since launched China-specific versions of their hardware, but with limited game titles approved by the government and with modified content. Last April, Xbox, along with Sony’s PlayStation and Nintendo Switch, vanished from online and offline stores in China after dozens of arrests resulting from a crackdown on smuggling, which has long been a popular method of accessing uncensored games in the country.