Takehito Soeda: Sony essentially "founded an entire business" to bring PS4 to China

SIE Shanghai vice chairman explains the company's struggles, triumphs at gaining a foothold in the Chinese market

When it first launched the PlayStation 4 in China, Sony was effectively starting from nothing.

The country's restrictions on consoles had only just been lifted when the system arrived there in 2015, console gaming effectively had zero market presence. That meant that Sony Interactive Entertainment Shanghai vice chairman and president Takehito Soeda had to find ways to build an entire console market.

"This country has the single largest legal market in the world for software, mobile, computer and console gaming," Soeda said in an interview with CEO Magazine on the company's efforts in China. "Because console gaming was illegal for so long, though, we started operations with a market share that was practically zero.

"...We had to develop entire networks from scratch. In essence, we went back to where we started and founded an entire business."

To accomplish this, Soeda says some examples of what Sony did included storefront demos of games and various trade shows for both business partners and consumers that offered the opportunity for people to get a look at exactly what the PS4 was and what kinds of experiences they could play on it.

Soeda goes on to say that despite the ban on consoles being lifted allowing the PS4 to have a presence in the country, it's nonetheless been challenging due to issues with censors, as well as a lack of any console business groundwork there to begin with.

"In any other market, you can release a game with minimal interaction with censors," he said. "In China, it's a challenge. It slows what we can bring to market, because we're not just selling hardware, we're selling content.

"...We're only able to get 30 or 40 games out a year, whereas everywhere else in the world, we can reliably release hundreds. We want more content available in the market. If the market grows, more games will be developed, and that in turn means more opportunities for us."

One response Sony has had to this has been to work with Chinese developers to release games that implement elements of local culture and build relationships within the industry there.

"China hasn't had decades of console gaming like everywhere else in the world, so we need to work together to cultivate and grow the console gaming segment," he concludes.

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