By Josh Ye
HONG KONG (Reuters) Sony Group Corp said on Tuesday it planned to expand a program to identify and incubate games made in China, in a race with Microsoft Corp to tap China’s games market.
The program will invest more than 1 million yuan ($140,080) in every game it enrolls, and will fund not only small teams but also large teams with dozens or more engineers, Bao Bo said, director of game production in China at Sony.
The Japanese tech giants’ plans were made public during an event broadcast live from the city of Chengdu in southwest China to relaunch the China Hero Project program, which came to a halt due to of COVID-19.
The scale of the third season will far exceed the previous two, Bao said, adding that Sony will release some games and its PlayStation studios will support the entered projects.
Sony has clarified that it will be the publisher of Lost Soul Aside and Convallaria, two games signed up over the previous two seasons.
The China Hero Project unveiled its first two batches of games in 2017 and 2019 and supported 17 titles, seven of which reached the market.
It was part of Sony’s years-long approach to China, which eventually led to a lucrative exclusivity deal with hit Chinese game Genshin Impact outside of the China Hero Project. Little known before its launch in 2019, it became one of the highest-grossing games in the world.
Reuters reported last month that Sony’s success with Genshin Impact has prompted Microsoft to aggressively woo Chinese game developers with big licensing deals.
Sony sells PlayStation (PS) consoles in China, where people traditionally prefer to play mobile games.
It has sold over 3.5 million PS4 consoles in China and Jim Ryan, CEO of gaming subsidiary Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE), said it has sold around 670,000 PS5 units there since its launch. launch in China in May 2021.
Tatsuo Eguchi, president of SIE Shanghai, said Sony’s goal was to sell twice as many PS5 consoles as the PS4 and thought the China Hero Project could help achieve that goal.
We want gamers around the world to better understand the creativity that comes from China. “I’ve always dreamed of console games becoming a daily entertainment item for Chinese people,” he said.
($1 = 7.1388 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Josh Ye; Editing by Alexander Smith)
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