In a recent report by the South China Morning Post, the demand for international versions of the popular console Nintendo Switch in Mainland China has caused an upsurge in prices and extremely decreasing stock in online gray market stores like Taobao and Alibaba. Meanwhile, the joint Nintendo-Tencent Chinese version of the Switch (region-locked to China) remains overstocked due to lack of demand from Mainland Chinese gamers amid its release just a few months ago.
Speculations have arisen that the overstock of the Chinese Switch version may result in opportunists capitalizing on the demand for the console internationally, more so that online Chinese markets like Taobao and Alibaba are accessible outside China or have partnerships with international online markets like Lazada and Shopee. In effect, potential gamers swiftly wanting a cheap, new Switch might mistakenly get the Chinese version instead.
It is extremely advised to check and double check the version of the Nintendo Switch you are purchasing. Or better yet, purchase the console from legitimate sellers and distributors.
The Nintendo-Tencent Switch version has a few glaring differences from its international counterparts, such as its lack of games and limited connectivity. In particular, the following should be checked to confirm if it’s a Chinese/Tencent version:
- The packaging is in Chinese language with a Tencent hologram seal on the flap, the Tencent logo at the back of the box, and contains a free trial of New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe
- Currently, it only supports three Chinese versions of the following games: New Super Mario Bros Deluxe U, Super Mario Odyssey, and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
- Online connectivity requires a WeChat China account (owned by Tencent) as the Nintendo ID
- Supported and default language is only in Chinese
- The Chinese version of the Nintendo eShop currently sells only the three games mentioned above
- The console can run international version cartridges but without online support or connectivity, which may risk being unable to run completely due to different firmware support
- Firmware update relies on connecting to a Chinese server/network, and has a different update roadmap than its international counterparts
Currently, the Chinese Nintendo Switch retails for 2,098 Yuan (CNY) (roughly USD 295 or PHP 15,000), while second-hand ones can go as low as half its original price. Online Chinese sellers importing the international versions of the Switch have doubled the price of the Switch to CNY 4,000 and above (with the ACNH version skyrocketing to CNY 10,000). Singapore-based videogame retailer Qisahn added that the Chinese version can go for SGD 200 (USD 140 or PHP 7,000) cheaper than the regular Switch.
Apart from the reasons above, analysts have also deduced that the recent string of online pro-Hong Kong protests in Animal Crossing: New Horizons have screwed up the chances for multiplayer and fan favorite games to get approved by the Chinese government. The protests have led to ACNH getting banned from Chinese online markets, and has even led to speculation that new laws are being drafted by the CCP to regulate and restrict multiplayer games within the Great Firewall of China to prevent the country from interacting with foreigners any further. Moreover, Tencent is required to submit to the CCP any potential Switch game or firmware update for review before it officially receives a Chinese version, further adding to the delay in the Chinese Switch’s popularity in the country.
We ask everyone to take certain precautions when purchasing your Nintendo Switch. While the Tencent/Chinese version is relatively cheaper, the functionalities are severely limited and entirely restricted for Chinese connectivity. It would be best to wait patiently for stocks of international versions to stabilize its prices before jumping to purchase.