At CES Asia last week, Internet giant Tencent announced a new console gaming system, dubbed the TGP (Tencent Games Platform) Box. Tencent isn’t a well-known company in the west, but it’s a behemoth in the Asia-Pacific market. The company’s market cap hit $200 billion for the first time just over a year ago and it earned roughly $16 billion in revenue in 2015. That’s still significantly smaller than Sony or Microsoft, but it’s more than large enough to throw some serious cash at the console business.
TGP owns Riot Games, which produces League of Legends, and LoL has already been confirmed as a supported title for the new platform. The company hasn’t announced many other details, but we know that the system runs Windows 10 and is compatible with Intel’s sixth-generation Core i3, i5, and i7 processors. There’s no word of any supplemental GPU, implying that the platform will rely on Intel’s integrated graphics for performance. That’s less dodgy than it used to be — Intel’s GPU performance has been improving steadily for years — but Intel’s Crystal Well chips with 64-128MB of EDRAM are the only chips that can be said to compete against AMD or Nvidia’s low-end discrete GPUs.
According to AllChinaTech, this iteration of the TGP Box is called the Blade and is the result of a partnership between Haier, which built the hardware, Intel, which provided unspecified “sensing and smart home technology,” and Tencent, which provided both system development and game titles. A number of other titles have been confirmed for the Blade, including FIFA Online 3, NBA 2K, Monster Hunter, and Need for Speed. The company will announce additional titles later in the year.
It hasn’t even been a year since China officially lifted the ban on game console imports. Previously, consoles were only allowed in-country if you lived within an eleven-mile trade zone surrounding Shanghai and if the console was assembled locally. Microsoft and Sony are now theoretically free to sell into China, but there are difficulties selling into that market. Content needs to be localized and Chinese gamers are much more likely to use either smartphones or PCs. Tencent’s decision to standardize on a PC-like device running Windows 10 makes sense in that context: It’s the gaming platform users are actually more familiar with.
Given China’s economic growth and millions of gamers, there’s good reason for the established manufacturers to go after the market — but Tencent’s launch demonstrates that native manufacturers have their own sights set on a piece of the metaphorical action. There’s no word on whether or not Tencent will launch its platform in the US, but hopefully we’ll see some benchmarks and additional information as the platform moves towards launch.