Popular Game Developer American McGee Predicts Xbox One’s Failure In China

American James McGee is an American game designer. He is perhaps best known as the designer of American McGee’s Alice. McGee recently commented on Microsoft’s annoucnment of having their console legally available in China (starting in September) with a lengthy facebook post:

It’s a good thing Microsoft is rolling in cash, because they’ve just made announcement of a plan that’s going to cost them dearly. Of course no one reporting on this is any wiser to the blunder than Microsoft, so here are my Top 5 reasons why Xbox One will fail in China:

1. Can’t sell sand at the beach. Xbox One, PS4 (and all previous generations of consoles) are ALREADY IN CHINA. There is NO effective ban. Go to Taobao (www.taobao.com) and punch in “Xbox One” or “PS4.” You will find (as will Chinese consumers) consoles and games available for next-day shipping to your doorstep in China.

2. The set-top box market is ALREADY SATURATED. “Set-top box” is the #1 selling point of the Xbox One in announcements related to the China launch – with BestTV as their local partner. XiaoMi and other local brands already control this business and offer better, cheaper boxes built atop Android-powered dedicated devices. Oh, then there’s the fact that 99% of streaming content is consumed on mobile devices or PCs.

3. Piracy. If you’ve not seen it in China, you’ve not seen anything. It’s massive, awe-inspiring, and will poke giant holes in even the best digital content plans.

4. Cultural/audience disconnect. The target market of kids/young-adults from middle-class/wealthy families don’t have free time to spend on console games (or TV/movies). Between the ages of 3~22 years of age they are heads-down with study, school, and extra-curricular activities that will increase their chances of competing successfully against others in the super-hot Chinese job market. Those that aren’t studying don’t have money to spend on a console.

5. Censorship and restrictions on content. Any console shipped out of the Shanghai FTZ will be unable to play any games other than those approved by the Ministry of Culture (and other media oversight bureaus). That means content for the device will be limited and inferior to what could be had by purchasing a black-market console on Taobao. Chinese consumers are wise to hardware/software restrictions and prefer to purchase “rooted” devices whenever such restrictions are put in place. Back to point #1 and #3.

(I could make more points… Chinese consumers are addicted to mobile phones, gamers get their kicks online, consoles are dead, etc, etc… but there’s no stopping a dinosaur. I’ll just leave it at 5.)

Hey Sony, you know better than to follow Microsoft into this punji pit, right? Right? Sony?

I think McGee is wrong on a number of levels, but I’m curious as to your thoughts. Sound off in the comments below

Source: fb

  • Chandra prabu

    In One Sentence….He’s RIGHT. Period.

    • dasfoto

      Well, since you’re the world reknowned expert, there’s no sense in anyone else commenting.

      • Rikkirirk

        Very very true.

      • Chandra prabu

        Wait Bro…Time is really gonna tell us.

        He has points that are valid. When I said Surface will not be successful and Windows 8 will face hard time as it is not mouse friendly, People commented me similarly. If you had read articles on last two days, there is one that describes, MS is still loosing money on Surface devices. Moreover, MS is bringing back the Start Menu and Mouse friendliness to Windows 8. It is all evident.

        China is a market for Piracy. US policy is not gonna work in Asian countries. Majority of people will not spend money on Softwares. You may read an article here, that China is not willing to upgrade for Win7 and more than 90% of them are running pirated xp and doing regular software updates. Even Bill gates expressed that every 25 licenses of MS-office, Only 2 are genuine in China.

        The reason that I see behind the failure of Xbox one, it has to be connected to Internet within 24 hours to check legitimacy of softwares. So they would prefer to choose the local one where they can install all their games.

        As one commented here, If MS wisely choose to sell only via online or Cable providers, they may taste some fruits. If not..!!!

        Let’s wait for some updates soon. Time is really gonna tell us.!!!

    • hushv

      I agree with you. For those who care, windows phone market share would be in double digits by now if Microsoft didn’t place stupid restrictions on users and developers like Apple.

      • Tips_y

        You make it sound as if you care about the success of Windows Phone when you actually don’t.

        “In One Sentence”… Chandra prabu, and you, and McGee DON’T KNOW A THING. Period.

        • hushv

          What makes you think I don’t care about the success of Windows Phone?

          • Tips_y

            Ok you care. LOL!

  • Bugbog

    Sooo. Microsoft shouldn’t sell [pre-produced] physical products in China because they might not sell blockbusters?

    I mean, it’s not like the landmass of China is part of the twilight zone and the products that aren’t sold there are incapable of being shipped elsewhere is it?!

  • nohone

    A guy creates a video game 14 years ago that was OK according to critics and had moderate success, but has had one failure after another including his company being dissolved, his kickstarter projects not reaching goals, and sequel the Alice game being released without anyone noticing it even happened – he has decided that the XB1 will fail in China. If he can’t recognize his own failures, how can he decide that others will be a failure?

    • hushv

      I think he’s spot on about the piracy thing. Android is like the usual windows. You can share apps easily and pirate things.

      xBox like Windows 8 would have a hard time in a society that has issues with buying software.

      • Tips_y

        I wouldn’t use McGee as an example for good analyses. He couldn’t even analyze his way into success so I should be wary on putting any weight on any of his analyses.

        • hushv

          You’ve got a point there. McGee’s history discredits him.

          Remember clinically mad men have flashes of insights once in a while.

    • Guest

      Pot meet kettle.

  • robertwade

    I guess I could agree with the premise the author presented if Microsoft plans were to setup actual stores there and ship a lot of inventory there. But if it’s largely going to be online availability, there’s really no downside to selling to China. If there’s a market, they’ll ship to consumers, if not then there’s no real harm.

    • hushv

      There’s no crime if Microsoft wants to sell there. McGee is simply arguing that the xBox would not be a runaway success. They would have to shed blood and tears sort of.

      Apart from Ps4, xBox would be competing with school, a workaholic culture, cheap tv devices…

      • Tips_y

        Your second sentence is debunk by a lot of local entertainment/gaming devices doing well in China.
        As for your first sentence, McGee is the last person to consult on success or failure of anything since he only knows failure.

        • hushv

          I know those making decisions @ Microsoft are having enough hard time already.

          Time will tell if their decision is would give the results they want.

          • Tips_y

            Correct, only time will tell but definitely NOT McGee!

  • Horbeme

    if the authur is correct why wouldnt MS know that also, MS has tons of money for research so they can find out if its worth producing the XB1 for china. i would assume they would know wether they can sell or not, their not new to this and if there is a demand to which i assume there is why wouldnt they sell? just asking

    • hushv

      Deep big pockets does not equal wisdom.

      It sure took them long enough to respond to Android and IOS with windows phone. Took em forever to respond to Google. Well, you get the point.

      • Guest

        Anyone who has taken a basic level business course in college knows that you don’t go to any market and expect to sell something new and have it become an OMGWTFGIMME!!!! product.

        They are in this for the long haul, developing this partnership, and are willing to take the long tedious route of market penetration.

        • hushv


          Took me a while to understand. Cracked me up when I did. You are right there. Hope their bet on this and other long term stuff pay off.

          • Tips_y

            Once again you got it correct. This is a long term plan.

      • Tips_y

        It just as true that “deep pockets does NOT equate to stupidity”. In short, deep pockets IS deep pockets and wisdom/stupidity has nothing to do with it. In fact, if anything, it leans more towards wisdom or how else did they end-up with deep pockets?!

        But your second paragraph gives clarity to where you’re coming from.

  • Avatar Roku

    I think the China deal is more about a long term strategy for Microsoft games in China. Kinect and educational games are a major factor. Chinese developers will be able to create games on retail Xbox One consoles that they can sell to the whole world. This will make the box very attractive to Chinese developers which could result in a lot of games and apps for Xbox that appeal to Chinese consumers. This isn’t meant to be an out of the gates immediate success but building a foundation for Xbox long term in the Chinese market.

    • http://twitter.com/surilamin surilamin


      And I think this is exactly what McGee fails to see.

    • PoohGQ

      He’s not realizing the fact the middle class in China has a lot of expendable cash on all things foreign toys that allow them to feel like they have made it. In a country where a Buick is lauded over (LOL), they definitely would buy an Xbox just to show that they can afford one. Does this idiot know that the middle class alone is made up of 300+ million? China is poised to surpass the USA later this year as the world number 1 economy! Microsoft definitely has hedged their bets against this very fact – “Be there or be square” when the Chinese wallets open up..

  • koenshaku

    This American Mcgee is not popular more like infamous for scarring the memories of gamers with FMV tripe that littered arcades in the 90s and consoles. God awful full motion video games that went on to sully quick time event games forever well.. At least until Indigo Prophecy was release to redeem them =)

  • 1stkorean

    Microsoft-News makes this guy sound important, when actually he isn’t. This sounds more like sour grapes on his part being such a failure in his own rights, and jealousy MS has ton of cash and he doesn’t.
    I guess since he failed so miserably, he is a world renowned expert on failure and therefore MS will fail too.

  • Guest

    Never heard of this guy or his games…sounds like he spouted off to get some free press.