PS4 launches in China, somehow isn’t (totally) region-locked

by Tech in Asia

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China got its second next-gen game console today with the launch of Sony’s Playstation 4. And although it hit the market with just a paltry six launch titles available, it does appear that Sony has won the moral victory over Microsoft when it comes to region-locking. Sony’s console is – miraculously – not entirely region-locked.

Microsoft’s Xbox One, which launched in China last year, appeared to set the standard for what China’s restrictive government would allow from game consoles. The device is an island: it can’t play foreign Xbox One discs, download foreign Xbox One games, or even connect to the other Xbox One servers. Nor can other Xbox One consoles play Chinese Xbox One discs.

But Sony’s Chinese Playstation 4 is different: it can’t download foreign games or log into foreign PSN accounts, but it can play foreign PS4 game discs, connect to foreign servers, add friends from anywhere on the globe, and download patches for games from overseas. Similarly, the global version of the console will allow players to log in to Chinese PSN accounts, play Chinese PSN games on disc, and download patches from the Chinese PSN servers.

The significance of this should not be understated. In fact, a region-unlocked PS4 is something your humble correspondent genuinely thought was impossible. Allowing the Chinese PS4 console to play overseas game discs means that Sony has essentially circumvented the Ministry of Culture China’s game censorship system. The Chinese PS4 launch lineup of games is pathetic, but that doesn’t matter as much when gamers can easily purchase imported copies of Playstation hits like The Last of Us from Hong Kong or Taiwan and play them on their domestic game consoles.

For a Chinese console gamer, it’s the best of both worlds: access to Sony’s global and uncensored PS4 game library, as well as access to domestic game servers that will allow multiplayer games to proceed relatively lag-free.

To be clear, Chinese console gamers are still a tiny, tiny minority of the country’s gaming masses. But with the relatively unlocked PS4 launch today, Sony has managed to release a device that is – finally – competitive with the imports on offer on China’s gray market.

This post PS4 launches in China, somehow isn’t (totally) region-locked appeared first on Tech in Asia.

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