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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

September 23, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Microsoft forms Chinese entertainment joint venture

Microsoft may have found a way to get its Xbox business into China.

The company has formed a joint venture with a Chinese media company to develop entertainment products, according to a Xinhua news report that I saw via Polygon.

Microsoft is the 49 percent partner with Shanghai-based BesTV New Media, a subsidiary of a major broadcaster, Shanghai Media Group. The venture is called “E-Home Entertainment Development.”

China is reportedly preparing to end a longstanding ban on foreign video-game hardware, an attempt to foster local game hardware that never took off. The ban is being partly relaxed; foreign consoles must be produced in Shanghai’s new free trade zone, according to this report.

No wonder Microsoft is Chinese gaming venture is in Shanghai.

Xbox spokesman David Dennis confirmed the venture but declined to provide further details. His statement:

“We can confirm Microsoft is working with BesTV, a subsidiary of the Shanghai Media Group (SMG), to explore new opportunities in Shanghai and China. We believe there is great market potential and partnership opportunities here and look forward to sharing more details soon.”

This isn’t the first e-home venture for Microsoft. E-home was the name of Microsoft’s consumer technology prototyping group that spawned the Media Center TV feature in Windows. It also used to be the name of the showcase of home technology that Microsoft operates on its Redmond campus.

The Xinhua report said the joint venture will develop games and related services. Perhaps Microsoft will also set up a studio in Shanghai to develop localized content and to make its arrival more appealing to the Chinese government.

Microsoft has used its Xbox platform in partnerships with broadcasters in Europe and Latin America, which have offered their customers a special version of the console to use as a cable box.

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