Yesterday, Microsoft and BesTV announced that they would be jointly launching the Xbox One, China’s first official foreign game console in more than a decade, this September. That announcement did not include any details on pricing beyond the cryptic “more product and pricing details will be shared later this year.” But the Chinese gaming media, citing an anonymous source, is claiming that the console already has a price: 4999 RMB (about $819).
We’ve contacted Microsoft for comment, and will update this story if we hear back. UPDATE: Microsoft representatives have neither confirmed nor denied the rumor, responding only that they haven’t announced pricing details yet.
Of course, like any anonymously-sourced rumor in the Chinese press, you should take this one with a great deal of salt. And in this particular case, the rumored price is so high that it seems almost unbelievable; the Xbox One costs just $499 in the US, and while electronics in China are often a bit more expensive, a $300+ price hike for the Chinese market—which doesn’t like consoles much to begin with—seems utterly absurd.
It’s also possible the source of these rumors was simply confused about the console’s pricing in various currencies, as it costs $499 in the US and €499 in Europe.
If true, though, the high pricing would certainly be an interesting strategy. A high-priced domestic console with Kinect-like functionality was launched in China back in 2011 and failed to light the market on fire; Microsoft’s Xbox has far better name recognition and a better product, but it might still do well to heed the warning the CT-510’s failure offers.
It’s also possible the high price could be an attempt to sell the Xbox One as a luxury/status item, where the high price is actually part of the appeal. That would limit its potential market substantially, but the company reportedly isn’t expecting to sell many devices in China this year anyway, so who knows.
Certainly, most Chinese gamers are baffled by the rumored price. As of this writing, the most popular comment on a Netease Games story about the Xbox One’s reported price tag is:
When I saw the price I burst out laughing. If the console sells well at this price, I’ll go to the front gate of BesTV’s offices and eat feces in public.