Lenovo's Ebox is a Kinect Clone — For China

By  |  Friday, August 27, 2010 at 9:03 am

Surprise! PC Maker Lenovo is making a video game console called the Ebox, and has no qualms about mentioning it in the same breath as Microsoft’s Kinect for Xbox 360.

Like Kinect, the Ebox operates without a controller, instead using a camera that beams out infrared light to detect body shapes. “We are the world’s second company to produce a controller-free game console, behind only Microsoft,” Jack Luo, president of Lenovo’s spin-off gaming company eedoo Technology, told China Daily.

Lenovo plans to debut the Ebox in China this November, but the launch could get pushed to next year. Games for the console will have elements of Chinese culture, intended to appease a government that prohibits the sale of game consoles for fear that they physically and mentally harm the nation’s children. At launch, 30 games will be available, and 16 global game developers have reportedly signed on.

So, what are the odds that the Ebox becomes available stateside? IDG News reports that the console will launch throughout Asia sometime after the debut in China, with other overseas markets to follow, but I’m guessing those plans hinge on whether the Ebox is a success in its home country. The reported support from game developers is encouraging, but so far the lack of photo or video of actual games being played raises some skepticism.

Anyway, let’s see how Microsoft’s Kinect performs first, as it remains to be seen whether controller-free play is the future of gaming or just a passing fad. If Kinect somehow becomes an industry-changing force on par with Nintendo’s Wii, Lenovo’s Ebox won’t be the only clone to watch out for.

 
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14 Comments For This Post

  1. Charles Liu Says:

    Jared, the Chinese government does not ban game consoles. I just searched Taobao, China's ebay with keyword "game console", and found over 60,000 auctions:
    http://s.taobao.com/search?q=%D3%CE%CF%B7%BB%FA

  2. JaredNewman Says:

    Well, I've changed the wording slightly to just to be a little more clear about it.

  3. Jackie Chang Says:

    China just specialize in making clone products..They have no ability of creation and lag behind forever

  4. Bill Says:

    There are legal, official versions of N64, PS2 and NDS in China. Not a lot but not a ban either.

  5. Charles Liu Says:

    Falk, care to provide citation on the specific ban on your console you've mentioned?

  6. Charles Liu Says:

    Jared, there's no prohibition of game console the way your article seems to insinuate. Check out these articles, if your Chinese isn't up to the suff, find someone to translate it:
    http://www.baidu.com/s?wd=%CE%C4%BB%AF%B2%BF+%D3%

    These articles suggest the "electronic game console/machine" regulations are aimed at arcade and online games, prohibiting vice such as gambling and corruption of minors.

    As a minoity citizen who's been witnessing our media's contribution towards America's rising Anti-Chinese sentiment, I am very concerned with the effect of such inaccurate reporting and false image of China.

    I mean who the eff cares, they are just "Red Commies" right? I ain't even from Mainland China, yet I feel I may end up in Gitmo soon.

  7. Charles Liu Says:

    Just for reference, here's the official website for China International Gaming & Amusement Fair:
    http://www.zsacg.cn/

    If there's an outright ban or prohibition, would the trade shows have video game categories? Here's the exhibitor categories:
    http://www.zsacg.cn/Company/Company2.aspx?id=7

    -Games, Arcade, Amusement Park
    -Large mechnical Amusement Installation (eg ferris wheel)
    -Game console, electronic game machine
    -Swimming and water amusement facility
    -Cartoon and animation equipment
    -Children's amusment installation
    -Parade ware
    -Arcade and amusement park management software
    -Seaonal/mobile amusement installation
    -Tourist attaction design and installation
    -Theme parks
    -Digital entertainment, Web-based gaming product
    -Novelty gaming product (eg adult stuff)
    -Animation and video game development platoform
    -Animation companion products and games
    -Animation publication
    -Animation Cosplay exhibition

  8. Charles Liu Says:

    Jared, here's a report on the 2000 game console/machine regulation titled "Our Country Does Not Prohibit Consumer Game Consoles", in response to the ebox report like yours:
    http://www.donews.com/it/201008/187839.shtm

    (document scan, page 2 para 1 definition of "Commercial Purpose"):

    "excludes home and personal, or like uses"

  9. JaredNewman Says:

    Hey Charles,

    Here's an article from sina.com.cn that says the restriction does extend to game consoles: http://www.tradingmarkets.com/news/stock-alert/ms

    And here's one from China Daily: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/bw/2009-05/25/conten

    And a report from Kotaku: http://kotaku.com/5587577/why-are-consoles-banned

    I see that the issue is not so cut and dry. While many major manufacturers indeed seem to be prohibited from selling their consoles in China, there are workarounds and exceptions. I'll think of an appropriate wording for this and update again.

  10. Charles Liu Says:

    Jared, what does exist, as reference in the China Daily article, is import restriction. MS, Sony, Nintendo ain't gonna joint venture in China just to get broad access to China market for their consoles (and give away trade secrets.) Chinese media freely reports this is also a move to give domestic game consoles a chance to grow and be competitive.

    This is a business decision, and has nothing to do with the June 2006 regulation passed on curtailing vice with commercian game console/arcade. IMHO commerce issue like this would be a lot more accurate and relevant to the eBox story than the "free speech", "totalitarianism" stuff you and Kotaku are misrepresenting.

  11. j .weber Says:

    Remember the eyetoy for ps2. it was not accurate or good in anyway. Is this a fail repeat? Also remember the phillips CD-i system from a non mainstream console maker? I remember seeing one first at a Service Merchandise. And never again did i see one. I also remember being amazed at the Brother electronic typewriters while shopping there. Will lenovo fail. Don't know, but i am typing this from a lenovo S10e netbook. All this talk of it being banned in the country that is going to making this aside, I just don't see any market of any kind in the united states. Wii is price aggressively and the others(sony,microsoft) have had their consoles on the market far too long for anybody to take a console such as this seriously. I would highly doubt that come release day anybody would lose sleep camping out at toy's r us waiting to get one.

  12. orange county water damage Says:

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  13. Kyle Says:

    the game consoles you can see on Taobao are mostly smuggled, the government does not allow the console doesn't mean people can not sell it. it's a grey area.
    however, the amount sold on line/off line is a tramendous amount and the software selling are super low, so the console companys are not making much by taking over a good market share in China.
    as a conclusion, it really depends on how you can generate revenue from this home console model.

  14. L Reeves Says:

    Wow! China has to make their own? Well isn't that something..? I'm curious to see if it functions as well as the american made xbox…pretty sure that when it comes to gaming technologies we win the prize! Get one of your own today along with the newest games and accessories at http://www.gottagetthis.com.