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Chinese IT giant working with Japan firm on 1st Pokemon game ever to go on sale in China

A screenshot of new Pokemon game "Pokemon Unite" is seen in this image provided by The Pokemon Company.

TOKYO -- The Pokemon Company, whose investors include Japanese video game firm Nintendo Co., showcased a new game being developed in partnership with Chinese IT giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.

In the game, called "Pokemon Unite," players battle against each other in teams over the internet. It will be released globally, including in Japan and China, for the popular Nintendo Switch console and also for smartphones. Until now, games featuring official Pokemon characters have not been sold in mainland China. Its release date is still undecided.

In "Pokemon Unite," players compete five on five, cooperating with teammates to beat their opponents' Pokemon characters. Whichever team gains the most points in a set time wins. The software is basically free to play, with the payment of fees required for additional content.

The Pokemon Company's, China division executive Yasunori Suenaga explained, "Tencent, with its highly trusted server technology, can handle simultaneous connection processes for hundreds of millions of players."

The reason behind releasing the game both on Nintendo Switch and smartphones is that the latter accounts for about 60% of China's game market, which has grown to become one of the world's biggest. Although Nintendo has been working with Tencent since December 2019 to distribute Switch consoles in China, only a few games from Japan have been introduced to the country.

A Nintendo executive has hopes that "If a new Pokemon game sells well (in China), it will be of huge advantage to sales of the Switch."

Games must first be censored by authorities before going on sale in China, and there are expectations that IT giant Tencent will act as a mediator between Nintendo and the Chinese government.

ACE Research Institute senior analyst Hideki Yasuda, an expert on the games market, commented, "Japan's business model cannot be used to expand business in China, so choosing Tencent as a partner to do so makes sense."

(Japanese original by Takashi Narumi, Business News Department)

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