China in January formally authorised the domestic sale of game consoles made in its first free trade zone (FTZ) in Shanghai, opening up a market with an estimated 500 million players to foreign companies including Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.
The Japanese firm’s newest games console – PlayStation 4 – has seen record demand since its launch in late 2013 with sales topping seven million units globally last month.
The opening of the huge Chinese market could be a major boost for Sony’s videogame business, its chief executive said today, as the firm looks to cast off years of losses.
“The Chinese market, just given the size of it, is obviously potentially a very large market for videogame products,” Kazuo Hirai told reporters at Sony’s headquarters in Tokyo.
“I think that we will be able to replicate the kind of success we have had with PS4 in other parts of the world in (China).”
Generating localised games would be key to success in the vast market, he added.
“Initially, we will start with non-Chinese games, that’s fine because that’s all we have,” Hirai said.
“But (longer term) it’s about getting involved in the local content creation market, which I think is very important for real success in the Chinese market.”
Earlier today, Shanghai-listed tourism and culture firm Oriental Pearl said it would set up two joint ventures with Sony in the FTZ, one for hardware and one to handle software and services, according to a statement filed to the stock exchange.
Sony will take a 49 per cent stake in one venture and a majority 70 per cent in the other, the statement said, to make and market PlayStation consoles and related software in China.
Despite the news, Oriental Pearl stock closed down 0.54 per cent today. Sony shares ended up 3.12 per cent in Tokyo trading.