Lenovo joins game console battle

PC maker to debut controller-free game console this November, with device to be launched first in Chinese market, according to reports.

Chinese PC maker Lenovo has earmarked game consoles as a market with "growth potential" and spun off a game console company that already has a controller-free console in the works, according to reports.

In a Wall Street Journal report Friday, Lenovo spokesperson Jay Chen said the device, called eBox, was first developed internally in the company. A China Daily report also noted that a core development team of 40 software engineers from Lenovo was spun off on Aug. 9 to form Beijing Eedoo Technology, which is backed by Lenovo Group, Legend Holdings and Legend Capital for an undisclosed amount of investment.

According to China Daily, the Lenovo-developed console is similar to Microsoft Kinect, which uses cameras to track the motion of the gamer and plot the movement onto the screen, eliminating the need for controllers. In the report, Jack Luo, former Lenovo department chief and current president of Beijing Eedoo, said the company is second in the world after Microsoft to develop such a device.

The Ebox console will be unveiled this November, the China Daily report said, though the device will only start selling in the first quarter of 2011. While the selling price has not been confirmed, Luo said it might be more expensive than the Nintendo Wii but cheaper than the Microsoft Xbox which sells for US$299.99.

Sixteen global video game developers have agreed to provide content to Beijing Eedoo Technology and a console will come packed with some 30 free games, said the Chinese paper.

While China is the manufacturer for most game consoles, the devices are banned in the country. However, there is a gray market in which these devices are sold and bought. According to China Daily, Microsoft has been working on getting approvals from the Chinese government to start selling its Xbox game console in the country.

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