The Chinese console market is beginning to grow, and Sony stands to benefit.

During a recent interview with GamesIndustry.biz, Sony Interactive Entertainment Shanghai vice chairman and president Takehito Soeda shed some light on the company’s Chinese investment. China’s console market has finally begun to grow, and that’s because of a commitment Sony made around five years ago.

During the recent Chinajoy 2019 showcase, fans were thrilled by the number of exciting titles coming from Chinese developers. ConvallariaEvotinction and Anno Mutationem are all products of Sony’s China Hero Project, which aims to support Chinese studios. While it’s not necessarily a surprise now, Soeda revealed just how difficult the early years were for Sony:

“Because console gaming was illegal for so long, though, we started operations with a market share that was practically zero…In essence, we went back to where we started and founded an entire business.”

China’s restrictions on consoles had only been lifted in 2015 when Sony arrived to build up the market. Sony not only had to start from scratch, but Soeda also states that they had to deal with much more restrictive censorship.

China’s console market has finally begun to grow.

Sony’s solution to those restrictions is one other companies can learn from. To adapt to the Chinese console market, Sony began focusing on helping Chinese developers grow. The company started working with developers to release games that had elements of local culture. That helped foster relationships in China while also providing consumers with more recognizable options in games.

It’s not just a commitment to console gaming in China that makes Sony’s approach so impressive. It’s also the decision to work with other companies to help grow the market. Soeda concludes his interview by suggesting we all need to work together to cultivate Chinese console gaming. That sense of togetherness is important, and echoes comments from Xbox’s Phil Spencer about the industry needing to build each other up.

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Cody's Take

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Sony is finally reaping the rewards for its investment in Chinese game development. Chinajoy helped generate hype for the PS4, while introducing the world to new titles from the fledgling Chinese scene. Even ports like Genshin Impact, originally scheduled for PC and mobile launch, will help grow Chinese game development while producing exciting new titles.

There’s also a real chance we’re on the cusp of a breakthrough moment for console gaming in China. Now that the market is more receptive to it, the new generation of consoles might have a chance to really make an impact there. Video game companies are preaching cooperation with each other in the market—if that’s the case, a big shift in console perception in China could be coming.

A big shift in console perception in China could be coming.

I’m even more interested in what Sony’s commitment to Chinese game development will do worldwide, though. For one of the most lucrative video game markets in the world, the opportunity for growth still present there is staggering. With Nintendo Switch in China coming as well, the we could see more native Chinese games make their way to the west.

Whatever the outcome, I think we as fans stand to benefit the most. Having more perspectives in game development is an amazing thing. Chinajoy 2019 showed we’re about to get way more insight into what Chinese video game development can be, and we have Sony to thank for being a major part of that.