Technology

Nintendo Switch goes on sale in China with just one first-party game

A fight scene from Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Image copyright Nintendo
Image caption Super Smash Bros is the only Nintendo game that has been approved by China

The Nintendo Switch has finally gone on sale in China, but Super Smash Bros is the only official Nintendo game available.

The console, which can be connected to a TV or used on the move, was released in the UK in March 2017.

In China, computer games must be approved by the authorities before they can be sold to the public.

Regulators there changed the way they vet games in February as part of an effort to clear a backlog.

In order to sell the Switch in China, Nintendo has partnered with Chinese tech giant Tencent. It is being sold for 2,099 yuan (£200).

Nintendo hopes to launch Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Mario Odyssey in China soon, but has yet to get the green light.

The company said it aims to offer between 10 and 20 first-party games for the Switch in China by the end of 2020.

Thousands of gamers have discussed the machines's arrival on the Chinese social network Weibo, according to BBC Monitoring's Kerry Allen.

Under the hashtag #NintendoSwitchHasArrivedInTheCountry, players have complained or made jokes about the country's strict gaming regulations.

Users who have bought the console say there are several Nintendo games displayed on the menu, but only one is actually playable.

They have also noted that it is only possible to buy games with Tencent's WeChat Pay at present, and that the simplified-Chinese language menus are hard for some to understand.

China's war on games

China had a decade-long ban on games consoles prior to 2014. Since then, the country has approved Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4 among others, and has slowly been signing off games for the platforms.

However, regulators occasionally stop granting approvals for new games for months on end.

Piers Harding-Rolls, a games analyst at IHS Markit, told the BBC that there was a large market for imported games as a result.

"Although it launches with one official authorised game, users are aware they can play other games on their Switches," he added.

"There's a big grey market for the Switch in China. They've been selling it since the Western launch."

IHS Markit forecasts about 100,000 Switch units will be sold in China by the end of 2019.

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