The much-anticipated Nintendo Switch China launch has finally been approved by the government. Tencent Holdings has been given the go-ahead to begin distribution of Nintendo’s hybrid handheld console with a test version of New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe. Entering one of the largest gaming markets in the world could prove to be a boon for Nintendo, especially with its library of family-focused games that’s already available for the Nintendo Switch. This also marks the first time that a Nintendo console has been legally sold in the country since the days of the 3DS XL.
“Launching the Nintendo Switch in China is a massive opportunity for both Nintendo and Tencent,” Newzoo Market Analyst Gu Tianyi said to Reuters. “What sets Nintendo apart, however, it that its intellectual property roster – including Mario, Zelda, and Pokemon – is already extremely popular in the market. What’s more, the mobile aspect of the Switch is a great fit for China’s mobile-first culture.”
Tencent Holdings had to apply for approval in the province of Guangdong where the company is currently headquartered. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has oversight authority when it comes to approval for game hardware and the State Administration of Press and Publication are the bureaucrats responsible for approving software. The government’s decision on the matter stipulated that Tencent must include a test version of New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe; that is to say, the game must be included for free with the console.
While the Nintendo Switch China deal is sure to make both Tencent and Nintendo a boatload of money, another problem remains: the Chinese government is facing a severe backlog of game approvals. A console isn’t worth much without the software to play on it, so both companies will still have a lot of work ahead of them if the Nintendo Switch is going to be a success in China.