Piracy is probably the gaming industry’s biggest competitor with estimates of millions of dollars being lost in revenue due to piracy. The simple fact is that it’s easier than ever to get digital content for nothing, simply go to one of the many websites that hosts torrents and within a matter of minutes you’re downloading the latest album, movie, tv series or video game.
Shuhei Yoshida and SCEJ chief Atsushi Morita know only too well the struggles of battling with piracy, especially in Asian territories where piracy is something of a norm there, stating that “even with hard selling, it’s not a place that is not efficient, at least not for a business anyway.” They’re not wrong either. China has only recently allowed games consoles to go on sale for the first time since consoles were banned in 2000. Since the ban a black market evolved, centered around the dealing of home consoles. Whilst most of those consoles may have been legitimately bought (though not so legit in the eyes of the Chinese government) and imported, the vast majority of the games played on them are illegal copies, openly sold in various outlets within China.
Still, that hasn’t stopped Sony from selling the PS4 there, in fact, the PS4 is the reason they’re looking to break into the lucrative Chinese market. After selling the PS4 and PS Vita in other Asian countries, the product manufacturer saw big returns on software being sold with SCEJ’s Morita stating “piracy is difficult to enter, software has come to sell more than ever in Asia,” he then goes on to say that “Asia has become a pretty good environment and position.”
The main reason behind the PS4 and PS Vita’s successful games sales is simply because, as stated above, piracy isn’t easy on the machines. The PS Vita’s proprietary memory cards have so far not been hacked and neither has the PS4, allowing Sony to take in the steady stream of revenue from software sales, rather than see a river of cash diverted due to piracy.
That said, the PS Vita and PS4 didn’t start life amazingly on Sony’s home turf. It has since gotten better with many Japanese gamers embracing the latest PlayStation consoles, but for a time the uptake was slow, even more so for the PS Vita. The reason? It may come as a surprise to you but apparently the average Japanese gamer doesn’t care for the latest technology, “customers in Japan prefer the contents of developers from Japan, but rather than pursue state-of-the-art technology, it’s content-centric” states Yoshida.
Japanese consumers have been known to be fiercely loyal towards their own countries brands of electronics, but they won’t go out and buy the latest console just because it’s new, it has to have the software to match. This was more than apparent with the PS Vita, with its predecessor, the PSP, outselling the newer device for months, simply because it had more of the games that Japanese consumers wanted. Of course the PS Vita has had a second wind in Japan, mainly due to price cuts and more localised content, as well as the arrival of the PS4.
Piracy does seem to go hand-in-hand with the gaming industry and it’s only a matter of time before the PS Vita, PS4 and even the Xbox One suffer the same plagues that infected the Xbox 360, PS3 and PSP, but in the mean time Sony seems to be content with the success of their latest consoles in a region that is notorious for bootlegging everything from consoles to breakfast cereal.
Sony has also managed to penetrate the East fairly well by releasing content that the target audience wants to engage with, maybe they should take this approach in the West? There are those who enjoy JRPG’s and other niche titles (niche for Western gamers anyway,) but a lot of the people in Europe and the US bought the console with hopes of playing Western games on the go.
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