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Censored versions of PlayStation 4, Vita to launch in China next month

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.’s PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita will be released in China early next year, just in time for the Chinese New Year. The consoles will be more expensive than the systems in the U.S. or Europe because they will be compatible with more affordable games. However, a negative thing about the Chinese PS4/PSV is that their content will be censored and the majority of titles will simply not work.

Both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita will go on sale in China on the 11th of January, 2015, over a month before the country will celebrate the Lunar New Year, which will help Sony to sell more hardware and software. The PS4 will cost around 2899 yuan (roughly $468/€377), whereas the PSV will retail for 1299 yuan ($208/€169), reports Cnet News.

Game console developers pin a lot of hopes on sales in China, where console gaming had been banned for nearly 15 years. Microsoft Corp. first started to sell its Xbox One systems in China earlier this year, but has not released any sales results yet.

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Chinese versions of Sony’s consoles will be slightly different from models sold in other countries. While the systems will offer the same performance and general experience, they will only be compatible with games sold in the country. The titles will not only be more affordable than the same games sold elsewhere, but they will be specially approved by Chinese censors. China’s censorship regime is expected to limit the number of gaming titles available, at least initially, as all software needs official approval before it can be sold, which takes time, reports Reuters news-agency. Initially only several PS4 games will be available in the country.

Microsoft’s Xbox One, which is available for 3699 yuan ($598), currently has 10 titles on sale in China, mainly censor-friendly sporting games, such as “Forza Motorsport 5”.

“The Chinese censor will be Sony’s biggest challenge,” said Roger Sheng, research director at Gartner.

Sony said on Thursday that it applied for licenses for 30 gaming titles and several had already been approved. Along with SCE Worldwide Studios, more than 70 third party software developers, including 26 from China, and publishers are planned to deliver software titles to gamers in China.

So far Sony has shipped around 13.5 million PlayStation 4 video game consoles worldwide (i.e., outside China). Sales in the country are expected to significantly improve sales of the system.

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KitGuru Says: Unlike Microsoft and Sony, which preferred to launch their current-gen consoles in China even considering the risks associated with censorship, Nintendo announced plans to deliver a special platform for the Chinese market. It will be interesting to see what Nintendo will offer in China.

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