Business / Technology

PlayStation set to debut in China early next month

By Eric Jou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-12 08:14

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp said on Thursday that it would launch its popular PlayStation gaming consoles in China from next month.

Sony Computer Entertainment Shanghai and its domestic partner Shanghai Oriental Pearl Group said in a joint statement that the PlayStation 4 console and PlayStation Vita hand-helds would hit the market on Jan 11, 2015.

The PlayStation 4 will be priced at 2,899 yuan ($468) for the base package and 3,299 yuan for consoles that come with the PlayStation eye camera. The consoles will carry a two-year warranty and include two games, Knack and King of Wushu. The PlayStation Vita will retail for 1,299 yuan and come with the One Tap Hero game. The PS4 and PS Vita will be available in both black and white colors, the company said.

"The PlayStation was born in Japan in 1994 and has enthralled gamers for over two decades. Though the PlayStation is different from other gaming platforms, what is important is the joy that it brings to gamers and partners," said Hiroyuki Oda, the head of Sony Computer Entertainment Shanghai.

"We want to work together to create new experiences for players," he said.

In 2013, the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone was set up allowing foreign video game hardware makers to set up shop and produce hardware and content for sale in the domestic market.

Oda said that Sony's joint venture with the Shanghai Oriental Pearl Group will come in handy for the Japanese company as it seeks to expand its market presence in China. The Shanghai FTZ has played a major role in Sony's plans for the gaming industry in China, he said.

"The FTZ was the prime reason why we decided to launch the PlayStation 4 in China," Oda said. "In addition, China's rapid growth has provided the right groundwork for a vibrant and gaming industry," he said.

According to Oda, the PS4, which was released last year, has sold over 135,000,000 units globally.

"We want to give Chinese gamers the best experiences. We want to work with the best Chinese game products with the help of domestic developers and the government, and lastly we want to work with everyone in the industry to bring the Chinese gaming industry new growth," Oda said outlining his priorities.

The PlayStation 4 is the second official video game console to launch on the Chinese mainland, the first being rival Microsoft's Xbox One. The Vita is the first hand-held to be released under the scope of a gaming console in the country. Nintendo had previously released the Nintendo 3DS under it's iQUe brand.

The arrival of the Xbox and PlayStation marks a new direction for China's expansive video game market. Traditionally, the Chinese market has mainly focused on PC and mobile gaming with the home console space left untouched, the reason being the various sales restrictions on video gaming devices.

Microsoft's Xbox One was the first foreign console to launch in China. Despite initially strong sales, the Xbox One hit a snag with media reports from claiming that consumers were unhappy about the lack of games and services.

Charles Custer, a Chinese video game industry watcher and editor at Tech in Asia, said that it is unlikely the PlayStation 4 would enjoy a better rate of success in China. He said that the console market may be restricted due to regulations on games and that those who are interested in console gaming already have consoles.

"There does seem to be more interest in the PS4 than there was in the Xbox One, but then again, when people learn the PS4 is going to be just as restricted as the XB1, that enthusiasm may dampen," said Custer.

"And, as always, the people who are really into next-gen consoles in China already have them via gray market imports."

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