Buying a Wii in China

09 Feb 2009

A while back I blogged about buying a PS2 in China, and there was a lot of interest. There’s not much to say about PS3, because it is so far uncracked/unpirated, so everyone who plays PS3 here imports everything. Games are 2-300 RMB each. XBox 360 has similar status re: pirating to Wii in China, but I have almost no experience with it, so will limit my observations to the Wii and its games.

Nintendo does not officially sell the Wii in the People’s Republic of China, so buyers must purchase an imported system. While previously Japanese Wii systems were the most common, now Korean imports are becoming more common. I imagine it is possible buy the Wii imported from the United States and other countries as well.

These are the prices I was quoted at my local video game shop:

– Basic Wii system (one controller) imported from Korea: 1580 RMB
– Installation of WiiGator “backup launcher” (which allows you to play “backup copy” AKA pirated games): free
– Extra Wii controller set (Wii remote + “nunchuk”): 450 RMB
– Wii Fit imported from Japan (with Wii Fit game/software): 800 RMB
– 10 games (not imported, obviously) – free

Wii!

All games work fine as long as you load them through the WiiGator Gamma Backup Launcher 0.3. The system also comes preloaded with Homebrew and Softchip (an alternate backup launcher). The shopkeeper told me only to use the WiiGator Gamma Backup Launcher, but I did actually try out the Softchip launcher, and it worked for most games. The (Korean) Mii section, however, does not work at all. I’ve heard that it can easily be enabled; the shopkeeper I talked to said it’s a waste of precious memory. I didn’t buy any memory upgrades, and so far I’m doing fine without it.

Just like PS2 and XBox 360 games, Wii discs sell in Shanghai for 5 RMB each.

It is expected that “backup launchers” and other alternate Wii firmware will continue to make strides. Currently, for example, online access is impossible, and attempts to use it will likely lock down the offending Wii system. In the event that alternate firmware does release better versions, it’s understood that shopkeepers will upgrade the firmware of their customers’ systems free of charge.

I can’t actually help you buy a Wii; this information is for reference only. If you’re interested, please also see Buying a Wii in Taiwan, a sister blog post by my friend Mark, who lives in Taiwan.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. […] Shanghai has reported Super Paper Mario is worth checking out, too. If you’re interested in buying a Wii in China, check out his sister […]

  2. That’s really interesting to me that they’d be moving away from the Japanese games, with mostly comprehensible Kanji, to Korean games. Are the Korean games largely in English or to the Chinese gamers learn how to navigate through the Hangul?

  3. I don’t have a Wii (yet) but my friend has one which he bought in SH.
    It’s Japanese and the Miis work fine. Also I don’t think he uses a backup launcher. On his, I’ve just popped the game in and started playing.

    With 360s there have been a lot of problems with the ‘red light of death’ and almost everyone I know has had this problem. The lights come on and the system just won’t work. I don’t know if this has any connection to them being modded or not, but it’s way too common here. The solution is a water-fan-cooling thingamajig which is about 300 RMB. (Mine has miraculously been okay for over a year now)

    It’s interesting about the PS3 that Sonys able to do that. I’ve asked video game shopkeeps and they all say that they probably won’t be able to hack it in the future as well. I fear the next(next)-gen systems will only be more secure. I suppose at that point they may start actually selling them in the mainland? (There goes my bank account…)

  4. Mark,

    It’s the Wii system (basic hardware) that is imported from Korea, not the games. The games are copies of Japanese, American, and European versions.

  5. i bought a wii a few months back in chongqing and i’d say 20-30% of my games don’t work. some load and then say disk error. the shop keeps swapping the disk but they still don’t work. i’ve tried both launchers. any of your call of dutys or mario galaxy or starwars… working? do u think its the wii or just the poor quality disk burning?

  6. I bet there are sweet Nintendo 8 bit and SNES / Sega Genesis 16 bit compilations available for the Wii…taking decades of games and putting them onto a single disc. Awesome. Seems like the limit to pirates are to cdr/dvdr and disc based systems. Cartridges and Blu-Ray haven’t been touched (yet). What about pirating of the handhelds like Nintendo DS which are cartridge based, etc?

  7. @Wilson
    You can get cartridge based fames for DS at places like the Hongqiao Pearl Market. I am not sure of the quality, but they do exist.

    • Hey Yu

      THis is sorta out of topic.. but if I buy my Xbox 360 in china, will it be able to play other countries’ games?

      And another one….

      If i buy my xbox in korea, will i be able to play those cheap 5 kuai games here at hong qiao

  8. From my understanding, now that Taiwan has Wii systems, a lot of games and programs are imported from Taiwan, which is convenient because they use Chinese characters (traditional). I was looking into buying Wii fit, non-pirated, imported from Taiwan at a electronic market in Xujiahui the other day…

  9. KGinCQ,

    I’ve run into similar issues, and I was hoping to find some authoritative info online, but didn’t find anything.

    The shopkeeper of the place I went to explained it this way:

    1. When the Wii first came to China, it was altered to run copied games with a hardware hack (a mod chip, similar to how PS2s are altered). The earliest games (like Super Mario Galaxy) run on the hardware-altered systems.

    2. Later, when Wii’s firmware became better understood, a simpler solution arose: altering the Wii’s firmware without making any changes to its hardware. All of the newer games will work on firmware-altered Wii systems, but not hardware-altered ones, but the games that used to run on the hardware-altered Wii systems will not run on the new firmware-altered ones.

    I hope that makes sense. It doesn’t tell me when I’m ever going to be able to play Super Mario Galaxy, though. πŸ™ Maybe I can find a place in Shanghai to buy a legit copy of it.

  10. Want to buy a console in China? It’s easy…

    Even though video game consoles are not officially on the market in China yet, it’s not hard to find any of them in the major cities like Beijing, where I live, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Any o……

  11. WOW, thank you so much for the info!

  12. brandon Says: July 11, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    My buddy here in China gave me a wii from japan which still is all in japanese. It works fine, but I bought an extra set of controllers (controller + nunchaku) but they dont seem to work with this system. Any advice to get it working?

  13. I can see some trouble if you buy a wii from US

    1. the TV standard is not same, USA use NTSC mode, and China use PAL mode. But this is not a issue, since you can switch both mode in most TV.

    2. If I buy a wii in US, I need buy the game in US also. The US wii do not support PAL game disc. So you can not use 5 RMB disc from ShangHai. That is the big problem.

  14. kui zhao – I have the US wii and US Ninendo DS – can I get games for either in China or will I be wasting my money?

  15. Kui Zhao,

    How about the voltage – China is 220 v, US is 110 v, could
    Wii connect to 220 v?

    Bais

  16. Charlotte Says: November 8, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    I’m in Beijing right now, can anyone help me out with buying a wii here? I want to take it back and use it in canada, will that be a problem? What about using Canadian games on the system?
    Any info about this and the best place to buy one would be greatly appreciated!

  17. estoy en beijing y deseo comprar un nintendo wii, pero no se donde ni a como estan los precios…, sera que me pueden ayudar… ademas vivo en ecuador y no se si lo compro aca lo podre conectar a mi televisor panasonic.

    Ayudenme πŸ™‚ gracias

    • Hola fernanda,

      yo me compre una wii hace dos meses en Shanghai y funciona muy bien el total me salio a 2600 YUAN incluyendo una WII, WIFIT, 2 volantes, 2 pistolas, 4 Wii remote + nunchuk, 1 cargador de mandos + 25 juegos. No es una broma todo eso para 2600 YUAN esta canhion. El fin de semana pasado fui a un lugar llamado ZHONGGUANCUN pero no encontre por el momento los juegos como playstation o otras cosas pero voy a intentar otra vez ese fin jeje πŸ™‚

      PD1: Vengo en china una vez cada 2 meses y esta vez estoy en Beijing jeje

      PD2: Soy frances pues disculpame por los errores πŸ™‚

      PD3: No hay ningun problema funcionara con tu TV en Ecuador y podras cambiar de lengua

  18. nygrandma Says: July 27, 2012 at 8:00 am

    someone gave us as a gift, 10 wii games ferom Shanghai and thought it would work in our Wii we bgt here in US.
    short of buying a japanese Wii console, how to play the discs?

  19. Little miss wii Says: December 30, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    My wii games don’t work I bought the game disc in china and my wii says game disc unable to read

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