China PlayStation 4 Arrives
MARCH 24, 2015 • Following a two-month delay the 2,899 yuan ($467) China PlayStation 4 and 1,299 yuan ($209) PS Vita officially went on sale in major Chinese cities. No sales figures have been released. The AFP news service reported that the Sony store in Shanghai had 50 people waiting in line to purchase one of the consoles. Inside the store, there were only four PS4 games available to purchase: Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends, Knack, Trials Fusion and Rayman Legends. Two other titles included free with the PlayStation 4 are King of WuShu (unfinished alpha) and Mr. Pumpkin’s Adventure. Seven titles are available for the Vita: Dynasty Warriors 8: Xtreme Legends Complete Edition, Farming Simulator ’14, Final Fantasy X HD Remaster, Final Fantasy X-2 HD Remaster, One Tap Hero, Rayman Legends and Toukiden: Kiwami. Unlike the Xbox One that launched last September, the PS4 is not completely region-locked. The system can only log onto the Chinese version of the PlayStation Network, nor can it download titles from outside the country, yet game discs from outside China can be played and connections to foreign game servers are also permitted. Similarly, DLC and updates for non-Chinese PS4 titles can be downloaded. Access to international versions of PlayStation 4 content is readily available from retailers in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Impact: DFC Intelligence has been lukewarm to the prospects of Microsoft and Sony consoles in China based specifically on the stiff censorship demanded by the Ministry of Culture that results in few approved titles and systems that cannot accept Western titles. The PlayStation 4 seemed destine to fare no better as reports surfaced last January that one of the major reasons the system missed its launch date was Sony Computer Entertainment’s insistence that there be no region locking had run up against a brick wall with regulators. We would love to know how Sony circumvented a region-locked PS4 because this outcome greatly changes the outlook for the console. China has no shortage of consumers who can afford to own a video game system but the appeal is playing popular Western titles. Since there is little inertia to acquiring grey market game discs we see no reason why the PlayStation 4 cannot become the Western console of choice in the country – barring any change of policy by the Ministry of Culture. That said, success is relative where China is concerned. We don’t expect sales figures anywhere near what is seen in North America or Europe, and while DFC Intelligence will be raising its PS4 China forecasts in April, it is not really a game changer. But with the region-locked shackles off, Sony’s system at least has a chance for reasonable growth. The PS Vita is another matter in smartphone-crazy China. The pricing is about the same as popular mobile devices there yet we are unsure whether there is demand for a portable game system dependent on digital downloads. Sony did away with UMD discs for the Vita so there are no grey market discs to import. Furthermore, the Vita requires games distributed on pricey proprietary memory cards, which can be a deterrent to bringing Vita titles in from the outside via that avenue. Neither can China-market PS4s download foreign Vita games for the handheld. Given the heavy emphasis on fighting games for the Vita’s launch titles, Sony may have an easier time getting past government regulators to supply a steadier stream of content. Regardless, we remain skeptical about how well the Vita can perform.