In a not so unusual move, Sony has decided to suspended its online PlayStation Store in China saying it wanted to improve the online store’s security, in a move that will temporarily prevent it from selling games in the world’s largest video game market.
Sony announced the closure in a statement on its Weibo (Chinese twitter) account on the 10th May, saying it was for a “system security upgrade” without giving further details. They did not mention a reopening date.
The suspension comes with skepticism as reports on Chinese social media that PlayStation owners in China we able to switch to overseas services via a backdoor and overcome China’s strict gaming censorship.
Sony has declined to comment on whether the reports had played a role in the closure and said the target of the temporary shutdown was to enhance the safety of the store’s services.
Video game companies, both foreign and Chinese, need to obtain a license from the content regulator before launching any game in the country. China has for years frowned on console games due to concerns that violent games could have a detrimental effect on the mental health of young people.
To comply, major console game makers Nintendo and Sony set up mainland China online stores for approved games since they entered the market in 2015 and 2019 respectively.
But the number of games in these stores remain limited. Last year, only 13 new games were added to the PlayStation Store in China. Nintendo Switch has only been allowed to offer three games in its China store in partnership with Tencent since it started selling consoles in China in December.