Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) announced today that it was joining rival Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) in the newly opened up gaming console market in China. The Japanese tech giant will start selling its PlayStation and Vita gaming consoles and software in China on January 11th, 2015.
Gaming consoles have been banned in China for the last 12 years on the grounds they harmed children, but gaming industry analysts say it is relatively easy to obtain almost any gaming device or title on the grey market.
Details on Sony’s move into China gaming market
Although Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) will be more than three moths behind Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) when it launches in China next January, it seems the firm plans to compete aggressively for market share.
The PlayStation 4 and Vita consoles will cost 2,899 and 1,299 yuan respectively ($470 and $210), considerably less than the Xbox One’s (without Kinect) 3,699 yuan sticker price ($600). Sony also revealed several upcoming games specifically developed for the Chinese market, honoring its commitment to provide “healthy games that are suitable to China’s national conditions… as according to the relevant government policies.”
Sony partnering to develop new games for China market
Analysts say Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758), like Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), has been required to comply with Chinese government standards in order to be allowed to distribute the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in China. Sony made the decision to partner with China-based Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development to form two joint ventures. One of the joint ventures, Sony Computer Entertainment (Shanghai) will handle hardware distribution, while the other, Oriental Pearl Culture Development, will is focused on software licensing.
Of note, Sony Corp (ADR) (NYSE:SNE) (TYO:6758) has already signed up 70 third-party software developers for the project, including 26 Chinese developers, and says it will continue to create its own games. However, the Chinese government has been blunt in communicating that it won’t allow excessively violent games or games relating to controversial social or political topics, so the process of getting games approved may be lengthy.