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Gaming

Sony to enter China gaming market with PlayStation 4, Vita

The game console will cost about $468 in China, and the company says it has already signed up 70 third-party software developers to create games.

The PlayStation 4 hits stores in China on January 11, opening a massive market for Sony. Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony will follow Microsoft's Xbox One into China with the launch next month of its PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, the company confirmed Thursday.

The PlayStation 4 console will be available on January 11 for 2,899RMB (about $468), while the handheld PlayStation Vita will go for 1,299RMB.

Sony sold 13.5 million PS4 consoles outside of China between its release last year and the end of the third quarter.

Until earlier this year, console gaming had been banned in China for nearly 15 years. The government once argued that console gaming would hurt children and would therefore not allow it. However, the move was viewed by some critics as a way to keep non-China-based companies out of the potentially profitable market, since other forms of gaming, including free-to-play online titles, have been available.

After lifting the ban on console gaming earlier this year, Microsoft was first to make the move into China. Under the country's laws, foreign companies that want to deliver a console to China must at least form a joint venture with a China-based company. Microsoft, which released the Xbox One in September in China, partnered with Shanghai Media Group subsidiary BesTV to handle the launch and distribution of its console.

Sony has been required to sign a similar deal to distribute the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in China. Sony opted to partner with China-based Shanghai Oriental Pearl Culture Development to form two joint ventures. The first, Sony Computer Entertainment (Shanghai) will handle hardware distribution, while the other, Oriental Pearl Culture Development, will take care of software licensing.

Sony has so far signed up 70 third-party software developers, including 26 based in China, and will also create its own games. China has, however, been clear that it won't take kindly to violent games or anything it deems unsuitable, so actually getting games approved may prove difficult.

Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.