Sony Corp.’s push to gain a foothold in China’s tightly controlled video-game market is getting help from an unlikely source: sellers of smuggled software.
When the PlayStation 4 went on sale in China after a 14-year ban on consoles was lifted, the government restricted Sony’s lineup to just six sanctioned games. By comparison, there are about 200 games for sale in Japan. That’s where Big Yao and Zhang Yang come in.
Yao’s shop in coastal Tianjin sells more than 40 PS4 titles, including banned games like Grand Theft Auto smuggled across the border from Hong Kong. The surreptitious availability of global blockbusters in China is good news for Sony, which relies on hit software to drive hardware sales and is trying to tap gamers in a market that may be worth $22 billion by 2017.