Sony launches PlayStation 5 console in China ahead of Microsoft's Xbox


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6758.T-JPMSFT7974.T-JPIn this photo illustration a PlayStation 5 logo seen displayed on a smartphone.Mateusz Slodkowski | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Sony officially launched its PlayStation 5 console in China on Thursday.

The disc version of the PS5 will retail at 3,899 yuan ($602) while the digital only model is priced at 3,099 yuan.

Sony’s console will go on sale on May 15 in China with pre-orders beginning on April 29.

Official releases of game consoles in China has only been possible since 2014, after a 14-year ban on those products was lifted. The ban has led to PC, and now mobile, being the dominant forms of gaming amongst Chinese consumers.

Strict censorship laws and long approval processes also mean that console-makers have a tougher task of getting their products officially released in China. While the PS5 was launched globally in November 2020, it is only hitting the Chinese market months later.

That has led to a vibrant so-called “grey market” — where sellers often import consoles from Hong Kong and Japan and sell them via Chinese e-commerce websites, often at a huge mark-up.

“Demand for PS5 has been high in China since it launched outside the country in November 2020,” Daniel Ahmed, senior analyst at Niko Partners, said.

“Console gamers in China that could not wait had to pay almost double the RRP (recommended retail price) if they wanted to import a console from overseas,” Ahmed said, adding this was due to shortages of the product and high demand driving prices higher.

‘Genshin Impact’ among games released

Games also need to go through Chinese censors. That means some games may not get a released in China if they upset the sensitivities of Beijing.

Sony said the PS5 would launch with three games — “Sackboy,” “Ratchet and Clank” and “Genshin Impact” — the latter is a hugely popular game from a Chinese developer. Another Chinese game maker called Ultizero Games is bringing its “Lost Soul Aside” title to the PS5.

The PlayStation 5 will face competition from the Nintendo Switch in Mainland China, which has been the most successful console in the country to date.Daniel