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China Telecom serves up Nintendo Wii-like service

Michael Kan | Oct. 28, 2010
China Telecom features a Nintendo Wii-like gaming service add-on for its IPTV service

BEIJING, 27 OCTOBER 2010 - Video game consoles like the Wii and the Xbox 360 have yet to be officially launched in China due to a government ban. But that hasn't stopped Chinese companies from offering their own gaming systems using motion-sensing technology now popular in the overseas video game market.

China Telecom, one of the country's major mobile carriers, has been providing a Wii-like gaming service as part of its IPTV (Internet Protocol television) package. Called "Tigan Youxi" or "Somatic Gaming," the console uses motion-sensing controllers much like Nintendo's video gaming system.

China Telecom showed off the console earlier this month at an exhibit show in Beijing, where users could play a Ping Pong game on the system.

The gaming system, however, is being made available as an add-on and not as an individual gaming console, said Xu Fei, a China Telecom spokesman. Currently the company is offering the gaming service in provinces located in southern China, where the company is providing IPTV service.

"It is not meant to compete with other gaming systems. And it's not as complex as those products," Xu said, adding that only a few games were available for the system. Instead, the company is using it to attract consumers to subscribe to its IPTV service, which can cost around 30 yuan (US$4) a month, Xu said. The exact price of the add-on could not be immediately provided.

China has a growing online gaming market, valued at about $4 billion in 2009, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International. But the gaming industry has been highly regulated as well, resulting in a ban of major overseas video game consoles. The Chinese government sees them as a potential hazard to the country's youth.

Users in China, however, can still buy the consoles through the country's gray market, where local vendors buy the product from overseas and then bring them to sell in the Chinese market. Vendors have also sold reconfigured systems like Microsoft's Xbox 360 so that they can play bootleg games at a cheaper price.

At the same time, China has also come out with Wii knock-offs in the past. Perhaps the most notorious was the Chintendo Vii, that hit headlines in 2007.

But a few Chinese companies hope to seriously contend in the video game market, both domestically and abroad. China's largest PC maker, Lenovo, is developing its own gaming system through its video game unit, Beijing Eedoo Technology.

The gaming system, known as the eBox, also uses motion-sensing technology in a concept similar to Microsoft's Kinect device for its Xbox 360. Users will not be required to rely on controllers, but instead use their physical motions to play the game.


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