NOTE: AN UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE WITH FULL DETAILS OF THE CONSOLE IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE
Fuze Entertainment CEO, Wang Feng, announced this week that their new console is due to launch in China this year. The announcement came during a press conference where the company revealed their brand new “Tomahawk F1” Video Games Console. The company is aiming to release their console next month but the final release date is currently subject to change. Fuze Entertainment first announced their console around this time last year and are finally ready to launch their console in China.
If you’re wondering where you’ve heard of Fuze Entertainment before, they are the company that helped fund “Red Ash: The Indelible Legend” for PC, PS4 & Xbox One. This game is billed as a spiritual successor to the Mega Man Legends series being developed by Keiji Inafune’s company, Comcept. Fuze Entertainment helped fund the game and are expecting this and Mighty No 9 to be part of their flagship title line up on their new console. Fuze Entertainment was a company started by Wang Feng with backing from LineKong, a mobile games and Interactive Entertainment company in China. The founders and core members of Fuze Entertainment have come together from big IT and gaming companies like Huawei, TCL, Nvidia and Tencent and all have the goal of bringing best gaming experience to Chinese gamers. They want their console to provide a better experience than competitor products and solve some of the issues seen with gaming in China today.
The console ban was originally lifted in China back in September 2014 when the Xbox One was released, the PlayStation 4 was released shortly after in March 2015 and as of the end of 2015 the two have amassed a cumulative install base of 500,000. It’s a modest start for Microsoft and Sony but it is clear that the console market is a very niche one in China, accounting for less than 1% of all spend on Video Games. With consoles now being allowed in China, a new phenomenon has started to take place recently among many big Mobile companies like Tencent, ZTE and Lenovo. They know that Mobile is the future in China but they also know that Mobile can be expanded and so they have introduced a new ‘TV Gaming’ category.
Companies like Huawei, Tencent and others are releasing their own Android mini consoles onto the market that you can hook up to your TV to watch TV shows, Movies and play games. It’s basically an Apple TV or Fire TV for those in the West but there is a bigger emphasis on the gaming features with Tencent’s MiniStation console allowing you to control the games with your smartphone as well as promising PC and Mobile games playable on your TV with exclusive content. Tencent even plan for their future MiniStation variants to support VR. Ultimately this is a way to bring your Mobile into the Living room and play Mobile and PC games from your favourite publishers on the big screen. It doesn’t help that these Android consoles are targeted at families and come in considerably cheaper than what a PS4 or Xb1 costs with some as low as $50. A number of big Mobile companies continue to invest in the ‘TV Gaming’ market and whilst it is technically bigger than the console market in China it hasn’t exactly taken off just yet or generated a huge return.
Fuze Entertainment are the next company jumping on the bandwagon but they are going about things differently and their CEO Wang Feng says their ‘Tomahawk F1’ console is going to be a serious contender to Sony and Microsoft in China. The company raised $60 million in funding from a consortium including IDG Capital, Northern Light Venture Capital, Bosun Ventures and LineKong back in October 2015. Fuze Entertainment’s CEO believes that they can hold an advantage over Sony and Microsoft by tackling issues like localisation, region lock and high game prices with ease due to their familiarity with the Chinese market and say that this will allow for a successful domestic console market in China.
Fuze Entertainment state that their ultimate goal is to build the best domestic game brand which brings the perfect gaming experience to Chinese gamers. Something that Sony and Microsoft haven’t quite been able to do just yet due to restrictions from the Chinese Government regarding what games can and cannot be published in China. Fuze’s new console aims to solve these problems by launching a console that runs the Android operating system. It is rumoured that the console will have an Nvidia processor with better GPU performance than other domestic competitors. Fuze are keen for players to have a smooth experience on their console and so will not allow for any game from the Android app store to launch on their console, instead developers will need to submit the game to Fuze who will test it before allowing it on the store. They say that not only will this ensure that high quality games are on the store (by optimising them for the developer), it also means that they can only put genuine games on and stop the store being a bunch of copycat games like on Mobile.
The company hopes that by using Android they will be able to get most Mobile and low end PC games running on the device very quickly so that Chinese users will know they are getting familiar games and experiences on the console from day 1. This is something Sony and Microsoft have struggled with as only a few Chinese games have actually made it onto PS4 & XB1 so far, but both are working to bring more Chinese games to their consoles as soon as possible. Fuze Entertainment has also partnered with many foreign games companies such as Koei Tecmo, Codemasters and Comcept to bring big AAA titles to the ‘Tomahawk F1’. The aim is for the console to have a balance of good quality Chinese games and foreign AAA games so Chinese gamers can experience the best of both worlds. Below is a list of foreign games already confirmed for the console and the company has said that there are already 50 games in development with over 100 due to release in the first year.
- Dynasty Warriors 8 with Xtreme Legends
- Assault Android Cactus
- Mighty No 9
- Red Ash: The Indelible Legend
- Grid Autosport
- Anima: Gate of Memories
- One Upon Light
- Heart & Slash
The games above are just a few of the foreign titles expected to hit the console this year. Fuze Entertainment plan for a number of Chinese games to launch on their console including their own IP ‘Sword of Heaven 3D’ which was developed by LineKong, the partner company. Fuze Entertainment are also planning to launch a VR headset to go alongside the console (Similar to Sony with PS4 and Tencent with MiniStation) but the full details of this are currently few and far between. Wang Feng says that VR is a natural fit in gaming and that it is only logical that they are looking into VR.
Wang Feng told media reporters last year that he did not intend to make money on the hardware in 2016, and perhaps even the next 3 years. This does point towards a low cost for the console and Wang Feng confirmed as much when he said the device would cost less than the PS4. This would certainly help Chinese consumers, many of whom are price conscious, when choosing a console to buy. He also said that he doesn’t want people to think of Fuze as a hardware company but as a gaming company that can bring great gaming experiences to Chinese homes. The company also said that it would not be wise of them to compete with Sony and Microsoft in the USA where they are very much established so their console will only launch in the China market where consoles have only just started to be officially sold and where there is more opportunity to build out a successful console business.
Wang Feng also believes that ‘Tomahawk F1’ will have an advantage over Sony and Microsoft when it comes to pricing of both hardware and software. He states that many game titles on the console can indeed be free to play and those that are paid can have low prices due to the console only accepting digital download as the form of distribution. The company plans to outmanoeuvre Sony and Microsoft by bringing Chinese & foreign AAA games to their console faster and at cheaper costs than PS4 & XB1.
However, Wang Feng does note that it will not be an easy task to successfully launch a new console in China. He said that despite a team of 120 people they found it very difficult to plan and meet deadlines to launch the console on time. They originally wanted to launch the console last year in 2015 but it is only now that they are ready to unveil the console. As well as this, the CEO notes that China is dominated by smartphone and PC gaming and that previous attempts to release consoles in China have not been successful. Even Sony and Microsoft have struggled to carve out a niche despite their worldwide popularity and financial backing. Wang Feng admitted that they may experience the same problem unless they launch the console just right and make it appealing to Chinese audiences, which is their plan.
Fuze Entertainment hopes to position their console in what they call the ‘mid market’, in that it is better than all other Chinese Android consoles but still below what Sony and Microsoft can achieve on a global scale. Instead they plan to win over consumers through AAA games that can’t be found on other Chinese consoles and through a good selection of Chinese games at a low price that Sony and Microsoft can not offer. It remains to be seen how well Fuze Entertainment will do in the Chinese market but it is clear that they have big ambitions.