PS4 China Launch Delayed

The 3,299 yuan ($531) limited edition Dragon PS4 for China.

The 3,299 yuan ($531) limited edition Dragon PS4 for China.

JAN. 8, 2015 • Just like the Xbox One before it, the Chinese version of the PlayStation 4 will not be launching on its original launch date. Sony Computer Entertainment says it will not be able to release the console on January 11 as planned, and cannot say when the PS4 will launch in China. The company cited “various factors” in causing the delay, and told the Reuters news service that the cause had been prolonged negotiations with Chinese regulators. Sony is attempting to certify 30 PS4 games for sale in China and had hoped working closely with authorities would smooth the process. Microsoft has only 10 games certified in China since launching the Xbox One last September. In other PlayStation news, major national retailers in the United States are reducing the price of the PS TV mini console that debuted last October. The $139.99 PlayStation TV with DualShock 3 controller is now priced at $99.99, while the $99.99 base model can be purchased for $79.99. For its part, Sony has not announced an official price reduction on the device.

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Impact: As we said last month, the big limitation on western consoles in China is government regulations on content. Therefore, the PlayStation 4 not meeting its launch date in the country is no surprise. Sony seems well intentioned in attempting to build good communication with Chinese regulators through its state-owned partners, but this is not the Motion Picture Production Code that was imposed on Hollywood in the 1930s where potential infractions were clearly spelled out. China is concerned with upholding standards of decency, as well as blocking what can be deemed cultural perversion from the outside. Add into those broad categories peculiar Chinese superstitions regarding ghosts, demons and the supernatural, and it is easy to see where a high percentage of popular titles on the PS4 and the Xbox One will run afoul of regulators. Whatever timetable Sony estimated would be necessary to approve titles in China should probably be doubled while in-country executives cross their fingers.

In the months since E3 last year, the lack of a coherent marketing plan for PlayStation TV has dampened our enthusiasm for the device. DFC had been positive on the prospects for PS TV based on the mini-console receiving streaming content through PlayStation Now. It is more than circumstantial then, that in the same week we learn that PS Now is only arriving on the PS4 for the moment, retailers are lowering the price on the PS TV. Vita and PSP titles, plus remote play off the PS4, are not enough to make the PS TV a success. Whatever the holdup is, Sony needs to get PS Now on the PS TV as soon as possible.