Sony’s PlayStation Store in China remains closed after having been suspended for a “system security upgrade” on May 10, according to a post on the company’s official Weibo account.
Sony operates a separate PlayStation Store for mainland consoles because the Chinese government requires all games sold and distributed in the country to be licensed, which is a lengthy and restrictive process. To compare, there are 4,633 games in Hong Kong’s PlayStation Store, yet only 124 games on the PlayStation Store China to date.
It’s widely believed that the reason for Sony’s move is to close a backdoor in the system that allowed mainland users to switch to overseas services to download unlicensed games. According to radiichina.com, a Weibo user named senliyingsi claimed in a post (since deleted) that they reported the loophole to the authorities shortly before Sony took its store offline.
“This move, coupled with the China Apple App Store licensing requirements announced just months ago, further demonstrates China’s resolve to enforce its game license process,” said Todd Kuhns of AppInChina, a company that helps foreign developers and publishers license, distribute and market their apps and games in China.
“China is a hungry, massive market that can be a cash cow for game publishers. But game and app publishers must respect the local laws and follow NPPA’s game licensing process,” Kuhns said.
NPPA is the National Press and Publications Administration (formerly SAPPRFT), the licensing body for electronic games in China.
Last month, China stopped the sale of the wildly popular Nintendo Switch game Animal Crossing after some users were using the virtual gathering space to create and share pro-Hong Kong political content. This led to the mainland authorities to reiterate and clarify their restrictions on social sharing spaces in games.
For a complete list of the games licensed in China on all platforms, see AppInChina’s Game License Database.