Video game hardware maker Sony announces that it is entering into a partnership with a company called Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development Co., Ltd. on the Chinese market with the overall aim of launching the PlayStation 4 in the country at some point in the near future.
The two companies are creating a joint venture in the Shanghai free trade zone and are at the moment running jointly funded trials linked to the production, the marketing and the support for all Sony-created hardware, software and related services.
The information comes from official documents that NeoGAF managed to get a hold of and do not mention when the PlayStation 4, the PS3 or the Vita handheld might be officially launched in China.
The local market is now accessible to console makers as long as they are willing to partner with a company after a decision from the Ministry of Culture of the Communist country to loosen the rules that affect console hardware and the games associated with them.
The potential of the Chinese market is extraordinary because a lot of people are joining the middle class and have the disposable income they need to buy a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One as long as they are available.
Any official console launch will have to bring more value than the devices that are already being offered via the gray market.
Sony has said that it has plans to create content that’s specifically designed for Chinese gamers, which might include more free-to-play titles.
At the moment, Microsoft is also planning to launch its own Xbox One in the country at some point during September, when the device is also set to be offered in other secondary markets, but no exact date and no price are available at the moment.
Analysts believe that the two next-gen devices have the potential to sell millions of units in China as long as they are properly supported and marketed.
More pessimist industry watchers believe that neither Microsoft nor Sony has the ability to compete with the illegal market and that the two platforms are unlikely to go past the 500,000 units sold in one full year.
Chinese gamers tend to play mostly MMOs and, more recently, Massive Online Battle Arena titles on the PC, which are genres that are underrepresented on the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One.
At the moment, the Sony device is selling better in both the United States and in Europe than the Microsoft one.