Well, it’s official – Sony’s globally-dominating gaming console brand, the PlayStation, is finally coming to China. Beijing had, since the year 2000, banned console gaming on the argument that it was potentially detrimental to the youth. But, really, who could keep saying “no” to a multi-billion dollar industry? This lifting of the ban means that it’s not just Sony who will be able to sell its consoles in China, but also fellow Japan-based gaming company Nintendo, and Sony’s stiff competitor Microsoft – with their Xbox brand.
China will still have some sort of control over this venture – it is quite against their nature to open the gates totally. The selling of the consoles will be confined to a free-trade zone (FTZ) in Shanghai. Sony will then partner up with Shanghai Oriental Pearl, a cultural firm, to sell both the hardware and software elements of the PlayStation 4 – Sony’s current console which incidentally is beating Microsoft’s Xbox One all ends up and is set to be the best-selling console ever, beating Sony’s old record with the PlayStation 2. Sony will own 49% of the joint venture in the FTZ that will handle the hardware sales, and 70% of the venture that will sell the software.
It will be interesting how this all plays out, given that China is best known for its draconian censorship rules. Anything out of line in terms of violence, social conduct, and especially political statements, would be reason enough for the government to censor, and so hamper the marketing of the products. And it’s not like the PS4 and Xbox One – and to a lesser extent, Nintendo’s Wii – are really “new” things for the Chinese market, as a lot of “unofficial” channels have been smuggling them into the country. There are also numerous knock-offs of these products — of lesser quality, of course, but gaming consoles nonetheless — that are being sold within the country. That being said, there are still potentially 500 million gamers in China – enough to get Sony’s corporate jocks tingling at the prospect of the new(ish) market.