On January 8th, Sony announced that the Chinese release of its console and games, originally set for January 11th, would be postponed. The official message said it was due to “various reasons,” but gave no specifics. When pressed by Chinese media to list specific reasons, Sony officials gave no comment, saying only to the Wall Street Journal that it had nothing to do with the recent PSN and Sony cyberattacks or with Japanese-Chinese relations.
However, this postponement followed an email posted online by an official in the Beijing Municipal Cultural Bureau on December 31st, stating a concern that the PS4 was not region-locked and would be able to run games and content bought from other countries without regulatory review, including software that “involve violence, drugs, crime, and other illegal activities.” Players are now convinced that the postponement was a result of that email, and a good old doxing went underway.
In response to death threats sent through Baidu Tieba and a flood of hostile phone calls, the author of the email (whose name was not revealed in the article) published a response defending his actions titled, “No matter what you say, I would still report, so go ahead and criticize me”. He writes,
1. Join in the fun, it looked fun, and I wasn’t the only one sending reports
2. I wanted to see if Sony is slyly trying to take advantage of loopholes
3. I wanted to see the definite attitude of the government
4. I wanted to see what Microsoft will do [editor’s note: the XBox One release was also postponed in September due to auditing issues]
Reporting was the only way to make these issues clear.
He also defends his actions by saying:
In fact, if Sony wasn’t abusing loopholes, then my report wouldn’t have had any effect. If Sony was using loopholes, then I was only putting it forward– sooner or later, it would get locked. So my report wouldn’t have any meaning unless it was proven true.
While gamers are frustrated and disappointed, another article from Beijing Business Today says this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody.Despite the fact that the 14-year ban on consoles has finally been lifted, it will by no means be an easy transition for foreign companies like Sony and Microsoft.
According to gamers, there is a huge demand for high-quality games– Sony and Microsoft are both eying the Chinese market greedily, and they hope that whichever one can get their blockbuster games into the market first will likely capture the majority of gamers in one fell swoop.
However, game consoles and products brought into the Chinese domestic market must face strict administrative procedures. Everything is subject to regulatory policy, meaning blockbuster AAA games don’t get to skip the auditing process, even if there’s a high demand for them and little enthusiasm for domestically produced games. This contradiction is something both Sony and Microsoft will have to face as they venture into the Chinese gaming market
In their statement to the Wall Street Journal, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Andrew House stated that the delay followed “a request from the authorities to make an adjustment to the business plan,” and that the delay would not affect Sony’s overall sales expectations foe the PS4 this year.