Nintendo is officially launching the Switch OLED in China next Tuesday. The Japanese company will be partnering with China's Tencent for the launch of this iteration of the Switch, since foreign businesses must often partner up with domestic companies to operate in China.
The launch comes three months after the OLED model launched internationally, which is actually a fairly swift turnaround for China where official launches of consoles can be much slower. Intriguingly, the Switch Lite has not yet had an official release in China but the main hybrid models have.
The OLED Switch will cost RMB 2599 – around $407 or £302 – which is more than $50 above the recommended retail price in the US. The device will be region-locked for online services and e-shop content, meaning those who purchase this official version will have a more limited selection of games and online services.
While Chinese consumers will have the option to buy the official version of the OLED Switch come January 11, many will likely opt for imported models instead. The gray market for consoles in China is popular among the console players in the country (where mobile and PC gaming remain far more dominant) with many turning to ecommerce platforms.
On popular online stores such as Taobao, imported models from Hong Kong or Japan can be easily found, and are sometimes even cheaper than official China versions of the console, along with the benefit of not being region-locked.
The Nintendo Switch has done well in China, selling more than one million units, since the original model launched at the end of 2019 in the country. But as analysts have pointed out it's often imported models of the portable console that sell rather than the Tencent-backed official Chinese version. The Nintendo Switch is the fastest selling console in China, both via official units and grey market imports, according to Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at Niko Partners, who covers Asian games markets.
The Switch is popular in China with many fans of its form factor and games such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but mobile and PC players continue to far outnumber console gamers.
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