Xbox One owners in China have received the additional feature ‘removal of Region Lock’ after its April firmware updates available at 11pm last night, according to gamer reports. Microsoft is yet to officially confirm the open.
Previously, Xbox One users in the region were not permitted to access games, videos and other media content from servers outside of China. Now with the ‘region-free’ option, Chinese gamers will be allowed to play international versions of Xbox One games.
Following last year’s lifting of the 13 year-long ban [Chinese] on foreign gaming companies entering Shanghai’s free trade zone, many believed that regional locks would still apply and limit players to domestic content in the name of protecting censorship laws. However with the launch of a region-free Sony PlayStation 4 in China last month, this expectation was dispelled. Chinese PS4 users are still unable to download international games or log into foreign PSN accounts, but can play foreign discs, connect to overseas servers and add friends across the globe.
Although Microsoft and Chinese distributor BesTV have not released an official announcement or confirmation of the Xbox One update, the company is clearly following suit, keen to boost its appeal in the Chinese market.
In line with current laws all gaming content distributed locally in China will still be reviewed by ‘cultural authorities’ and approved or altered to meet regulation. However, today’s update would allow gamers in China to purchase games from foreign suppliers.
The Chinese web community MyDrivers has confirmed [Chinese] that the region-free update is valid by reporting that it successfully installed international versions of Halo: Master Chief Collection and Grand Theft Auto 5.
Reports have not yet revealed whether the unlock feature affects online play and downloadable content. If this does apply, Chinese players will be able to play online against foreign gamers.