The Playstation 4 and Vita have launched in China! Huzzah! Pictured above are the special editions of the machines released in the region to commemorate the event.
However, there would be no article if that were all the news to be had. What’s notable is this: the machines aren’t entirely region-locked.
Microsoft’s Xbox One became available in China last year, after a fashion. Although Chinese consumers now have access to the home console, it can only play discs and download games specifically created for the Chinese market, and can’t connect to foreign servers.
The Chinese version of Sony’s PS4 is quite different: while it’s unable to download foreign games or log into foreign PSN accounts, it is able to play foreign Playstation discs and download patches from overseas, is able to connect to foreign servers, and Chinese players can even add international friends.
The significance of this is monumental: Sony’s Playstation is potentially circumventing China’s strict censorship laws, and the Chinese government is letting them do it. Chinese gamers who own a Playstation console will now have legal access to the entirety of Sony’s PS4 game library, provided that they import the titles.
The road here has been bumpy. After China ended its ban on gaming consoles, Sony entered into an agreement to produce the Chinese version of the console in Chinese factories, was going to launch the console on the Chinese mainland in December of last year, but then announced that the console would be launching in January instead, and then had to postpone the release again, until March 20.
We’ll be keeping track of developments there.
(Thanks, Game Kana.)