By Kazunori Takada
SHANGHAI, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Sony Corp will delay sales of the PlayStation 4 gaming console in China, originally scheduled for Jan. 11, due to “various factors”, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
Sony’s Computer Entertainment division said a new sale date had not yet been determined, but a company source in China told Reuters that prolonged negotiations with Chinese authorities were part of the reason for the delay.
The release would have marked PlayStation’s entry into China for the first time at a moment when loss-making Sony is leaning on its gaming business to partially offset weakness in its mobile division.
Beijing lifted a 14-year ban on foreign gaming consoles last year, paving the way for Sony’s rival Microsoft Corp to launch its newest-generation Xbox in China in September.
Despite being the world’s third-largest gaming market, where gaming revenues hit $15 billion last year, analysts say China may be a tough market to crack for the console makers because strict censorship rules that prevent the sale of many popular titles could make consoles less attractive to gamers.
Sony and Microsoft also face stiff competition from PC and mobile games, which have dominated the Chinese market in their 14-year absence.
Sony has said it is in the process of applying for licences for 30 games. The company has sought to head off censorship concerns, saying it is working closely with the government.
“Cooperating with the government, we’ll provide a broad range of content for our users in China,” Hiroyuki Oda, head of Asia business at Sony Computer Entertainment, told reporters in December.
Sony plans to sell the PlayStation 4 in China for 2,899 yuan ($467), slightly higher than in the United States, where it sells for around $400. The portable PlayStation Vita has been priced at 1,299 yuan.
The Xbox, which sells for 3,699 yuan, currently has 10 titles on sale in China, mainly censor-friendly sporting games such as “Forza Motorsport 5”. Microsoft has not released Xbox sales figures for China. ($1 = 6.2143 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Kazunori Takada; Writing by Gerry Shih; Editing by Alan Raybould, Pravin Char and David Evans)