he Nintendo Switch has finally launched in China, though… there is one slight catch.
Those purchasing Nintendo’s latest console in the mainland will be acquiring a Switch with Chinese characteristics that won’t allow you to play online with people outside of China and that also won’t allow you to buy games other than those offered on the China eShop.
At the moment, there’s just one game on the Chinese store, New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe. A Switch bundle in China comes with that lone game and costs 2,099 yuan ($300).
Despite these heavy restrictions, news of the Switch China launch, which was facilitated by a partnership with Chinese tech and gaming giant Tencent, has been greeted with optimism by investors as Nintendo shares have just hit a 19-month high. One financial services firm estimates that the console may see sales of 4 million to 5 million in China over its first year.
China is the world’s second-largest gaming market, however, the vast majority of that is in mobile and computer gaming. For over a decade, the Chinese government banned video game consoles in an effort to save kids from gaming addiction (good job there!). While that ban has been lifted, consoles still haven’t managed to find much of a foothold in China.
Just prior to launch day, JD.com reported that some 105,000 people had put in a reservation for a Switch. Meanwhile, Tmall reported that sales had topped 10,000 units at 10am on Tuesday.
For the moment, those tens of thousands of gamers will have to be content playing Super Mario Bros. against each other. Both Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe are set for release in China soon.