Sony has signed a partnership in China – much like Microsoft has already – to manufacture and sell its PlayStation consoles on the mainland. The deal, part of two joint ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl, gives Sony access to China's estimated 500 million gamers in China.
China recently lifted a 14-year ban on gaming consoles that had been in place since 2000, saying that these devices has an adverse effect on the mental health of young people. Meanwhile, the ban has helped grow the PC and mobile gaming sector and has created a gray market where consoles and pirated software can be purchased.
The two partnerships are both with Shanghai Oriental Pearl, with one giving Sony a 70 percent share and the other a 49 percent stake. Both will operate out of Shanghai's free trade zone – one of the government's requirements for anyone wanting to sell consoles in the region. The government also reserves the right to review and ban any software released in the region that it finds clashes with Chinese culture and values.
In a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, an executive from Shanghai Oriental Pearl said of the deal:
"The joint venture will be based on the relevant state policies and will introduce quality and healthy video games that will adhere to China's national conditions as well as the tastes of Chinese gamers."
"Sony will also co-operate with domestic game development teams to promote original products on Playstation platform, while further improving the Chinese gaming industry."
Sony's game console joint venture comes nearly a month after rival Microsoft said its Xbox One game console will go on sale in China in September. Microsoft will launch the console in collaboration with BesTV New Media Co, a subsidiary of Shanghai Media Group.