PlayStation 4 video games, seen on sale at a store in Japan, will be available in China soon after a 13-year ban was lifted. Photo: Bloomberg

Tokyo - Sony has taken steps toward selling PlayStation gaming consoles in China as chief executive Kazuo Hirai seeks to tap players in the world’s largest market and rebound from a projected sixth loss in seven years.

Sony has agreed to form two ventures with Shanghai Oriental Pearl to start making and selling PlayStation consoles after China lifted a 13-year ban on sales of the machines. It will have a 70 percent stake in one venture and 49 percent in the other, according to a statement filed with the Shanghai Stock Exchange. Sony rose the most in almost two months yesterday.

The move comes after Microsoft announced plans to sell its Xbox One machine in China, and Nintendo said it planned to expand in emerging markets with new devices. China’s video-game industry will generate about $10 billion (R103bn) in sales next year, according to PwC, and console makers are trying to distract Chinese players from games on their smartphones and tablet computers.

Sony rose 3.1 percent to close at ¥1 683 (R170) in Tokyo trading. The shares are down 7.8 percent this year, compared with the 8.3 percent drop on the benchmark Topix index.

In September last year, Shanghai inaugurated a free-trade zone with more relaxed financial and investment controls as Beijing seeks to unleash market forces in the second-largest economy. That is helping attract companies from console makers to banks.

Satoshi Fukuoka, a spokesman for Sony, declined to comment on whether it would sell the PlayStation 4 or design another console for China. He also declined to say when sales in China would start.

State-owned Shanghai Oriental Pearl is involved in hotels, cable television, advertising and broadcasting on Shanghai subways. Board secretary Xu Xiaojun said the company could help Sony navigate the regulatory process to obtain licences. She said Shanghai Oriental Pearl was building its game business portfolio and had bought stakes in US and Japanese firms.

“This is a big market. We want to build a big culture and entertainment platform where we can utilise our traditional advantages in entertainment content.”

Last week Sony unexpectedly forecast a ¥50 billion net loss this year as slumping demand for its television sets and video cameras was compounded by the costs of restructuring and exiting the personal computer business. – Bloomberg