Why Sony’s PS4 won’t make it to China this week

Sony has been forced to delay the release of its PlayStation 4 console in China after authorities asked the Japanese electronics giant to make some "final adjustments".

The move highlights the enormous challenge that gamemakers face in China after the world's second-largest economy lifted a 14-year ban on foreign-made consoles one year ago.

Sony Playstation PS4 console
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Sony Playstation PS4 console

The PlayStation 4 was scheduled for a January 11 release. No new release date has been suggested yet.

"We regret to announce that we have decided to postpone the release of these products from January 11 as previously planned, due to current circumstances," a Sony spokesperson told CNBC via email.

"We've been putting great efforts to introduce PS products into the Chinese market on Jan 11 in cooperation with the Chinese government and various business partners, but the authorities have approached us at this timing, leading us to require some more time to make final adjustments."

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Censorship fears

China originally banned foreign consoles in 2000 citing concerns that violent games could have a detrimental effect on the mental health of young people. Since then, an illegal "grey market" has thrived where consoles can be bought at massive discounts.

The lifting of the ban was seen as a lucrative opportunity for the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft to enter China's gaming market, which generated revenue of $14 billion in 2013, according to China's game industry body.

But analysts were unsurprised that Chinese authorities had intervened in Sony's PlayStation release.

"It is not at all surprising that they would face some hurdles, particular at the start of a new era for video-gaming console makers not locally based in China," Heloise Thomson, gaming analyst at Enders Analysis, told CNBC in a phone interview.

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"Despite lifting the ban on the sale, authorities will definitely have a hand in censoring and regulating the content of the games."

Despite concerns over censorship, Sony said it had been "closely collaborating" with the Chinese government and business partners.

This is not the first time a console maker has had to delay the release of a product in China. Microsoft had to postpone the release of the Xbox One by a few days, but was unclear about the reason.

The PlayStation delay comes at a time when Sony is attempting to turnaround its entire business and is relying on its successful gaming division to keep on delivering.

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