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Don't expect big thrills in China's looming console war

Tim Hornyak | March 16, 2015
When Sony's PlayStation 4 finally enters mainland China this month, it will bring a major global console fight to a country that hasn't seen one in a long time.

"The main reason freemium games are the bedrock of Chinese gaming is because it's an effective means of combating endemic illicit software distribution," Ward wrote in a recent research note, adding IDC expects PS4 and Xbox One to sell far fewer than 1 million units in mainland China, combined, in 2015.

PS4s are already in China mostly through grey market imports from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Grey market consoles will likely be unlocked, meaning they can play games that will be restricted on the officially sanctioned versions of gaming consoles. It's one more thing that makes the official release less attractive to serious gamers

Meanwhile, Android-based TV set-top gaming devices, which are relatively cheap and gaining ground, are another option. And while mobile gaming on Android and iOS platforms has become increasingly popular on the Chinese mainland, that may not provide a foundation for success for the PS Vita, Sony's handheld gaming unit.

"Sony is offering the Vita in China and that device could have some appeal, but overall dedicated handheld gaming devices typically don't sell well against the more ubiquitous smartphone and mobile game apps," Brian Blau, an analyst at Gartner, said via email. "Given Sony's lead in console sales, I would not be surprised to see them have the same ration of success in China once this initial launch period has passed."

 

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