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PS2 rolls out in China at last

Sony frustrated by reduced scale.

The PlayStation 2 console has arrived in China at last - but only just, with the major launch Sony had hoped for fizzling out following weeks of delays brought about by pricing concerns and unexpected legal problems.

After lengthy delays, Sony had planned to launch the console on December 20th in five of China's largest cities, but it suffered a major setback when the Chinese government threatened to intervene in the launch.

The government was unwilling to permit a foreign-manufactured videogames console to be sold in China - a problem not faced by Nintendo, whose Chinese offering, the iQue, is entirely manufactured in China and hence exempt from this ruling.

The PlayStation 2 is also assembled in China, but the government there is thought to have concerns over the fact that most of the complex internal components of the console are fabricated in Japan before being shipped to China for assembly.

There were also serious concerns over Sony's pricing for the console, which at 1,988 Yuan (€200) was considered too high for the Chinese marketplace, although the games were set to retail at 168 Yuan (€17) each, significantly cheaper than in other global markets.

It's not known what compromises Sony made with the Chinese government to lift the legal embargo on the launch of the PS2, but either way, the company received permission to launch the system on January 1st - and the console duly limped out, albeit in only two of the five cities originally planned (Shanghai and Guangzhou), and with only one piece of software (ICO), Ape Escape 2 having slipped past the launch date. The price, however, remains at 1,988 Yuan as originally planned.

It's currently not known when the console will become available elsewhere in China, or what Sony's future software release plans are. However, the company is bound to have ambitious plans for the system in the territory, legal wrangling and concerns over piracy notwithstanding. China is one of the largest emerging markets in the world, and it's expected that the games industry there will be a major growth sector in the coming years.

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GamesIndustry International is the world's leading games industry website, incorporating GamesIndustry.biz and IndustryGamers.com.

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