Only a bunch of idiots would ignore an audience of over a billion people. The people running PlayStation don’t seem like a bunch of idiots.
That might explain why Sony Computer Entertainment Japan Asia is forming a new group to explore the Chinese market. Sony announced the division, dubbed the China Strategy Department, in a message to investors earlier today. This at least means that the PlayStation wing of Sony is investigating the potential of China as a market for its hardware and games. China banned consoles in 2000 to protect children from violent games, but its Ministry of Culture has recently repealed those restrictions. The country already has a $13 billion gaming industry primarily on PC and mobile.
Sony Computer Entertainment veteran Takehito Soeda will lead China Strategy Department. He previously worked within the PlayStation business as an expert on China business strategy. The company has provided no other details on what kind of work Soeda or the new department will perform.
We’ve reached out to Sony, and we’ll update this post with any new information.
Of course, Sony isn’t the only console manufacturer interested in China. Rumors suggest Microsoft is looking to release its Xbox One in China, and the company invested $79 million in Shanghai electronics firm BesTV. That deal may enable the Xbox company to produce items fit for sale in the regulation-heavy Chinese market.
Nintendo has also sought to establish a presence in China. It has a line of devices called iQue Players that enable gamers to download software to memory cards that they can plug into controllers that connect directly to a television. Nintendo started this in 2003 with Nintendo 64 software — which was around the time it was focusing on GameCube in other territories.
China is a massive region, but it isn’t a gaming vacuum. The nation’s gamers generated $13 billion in revenue last year. Most of that went to client-based PC games like League of Legends and Dota 2. The nation also still spends heavily on subscription-based massively multiplayer online titles like World of Warcraft as well as browser games, which generated $2 billion on their own. Mobile is China’s fastest-growing game sector — yet it only brought in $1.8 billion in 2013.
Console gaming in China only produced $15 million in revenue due to strict government sanctions.