Sony indefinitely postpones launch of censor-friendly PlayStation 4 in China
Thu 8 Jan 2015
Sony Corp will not now launch its censor-accessible version of its PS4 gaming console in China on January 11th, due to what Reuters refers to as ‘prolonged negotiations ‘ with the Chinese authorities – and the lately-beleaguered tech giant has not set a revised launch date.
The version of the PlayStation 4 intended to be made available to Chinese consumers is set to be manufactured in factories in China as a joint venture with native tech partners, and has been developed in a spirit of co-operation with China’s strict censorship rules, likely banning games which have already proved controversial in the west, such as the Grand Theft Auto series, and others that may fall foul of the censor’s approbation for sundry reasons.
The launch was intended as the start of Sony’s catch-up on gaming rival Microsoft, whose Xbox One console was the first to take advantage of the lifting of China’s 14-year ban on videogames. The Xbox One launched in September with ten censor-approved titles (though no details were given as to how secure the Kinect camera system remains from official monitoring).
The PS4’s main appeal is the exclusivity of many of its game offerings, but enough of the most popular of these are adequately controversial to possibly be the subject of Redmond’s ‘negotiations’ with the Chinese authorities. It seems reasonable to speculate that content availability is the issue at the heart of the delay. All videogames made commercially available in China are subject to censorship review first, and it’s possible that the usually-lengthy reviews have taken even longer than usual due to the nature of the medium. It’s also possible that unfavourable censorship verdicts have come in at a deadline-nudging moment, wrong-footing Sony by leaving it without its own self-determined minimum roster of pre-approved games to sell.
Further possibilities regarding the delay include the usual haggling over prices, percentages and profits, or heated discussions about the closed nature of the Sony PS4 ecosystem, which shares place with the Xbox One as one of the most locked-down and company-dictated operating system environments you can enter outside of an airport.
Finally, there is the possibility of manufacturing quality or output issues hiding behind the official story – at the end of the day, PS4 CN is a radically altered product both at a software and hardware level.
The PS4 is intended to sell in China for 2,899 yuan (£309 / $467). In the UK the PS4 retails for £330 ($499 / 3091 yuan), with the US average price coming in £60 lower at $399 (2478 yuan).
Speaking of prices, Microsoft may now regret its round of Xbox price-cutting in the run up to Christmas, which was chiefly designed to claim as much consumer territory as possible before the January 11th Sony launch.