PS4: December Asia release could be bad news for Sony India

Sony has announced that the PlayStation 4 will release in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea in December, and with no Indian release date yet, this could be bad news for Sony India.

The December release window for Asia will surely put pressure on Sony India to release the PS4 in India around the same time or be faced with a market flooded with imported units from Hong Kong. That was very much the case during the launch of the PS3, when the console released in India months after it did in South East Asia.

While pricing for the PS4 in Hong Kong and Singapore hasn’t yet been announced, Sony consoles are usually cheapest in Hong Kong, which means even with the premium that will be charged by importers, it will be significantly cheaper than whatever Sony India will charge for the official release.

My first PS3 purchase was an imported Hong Kong model, which cost me Rs 23,000. At the time, the price for the Indian version was Rs 34,990. It’s unlikely that the price difference will be as big this time around, but there will be a difference nonetheless.

If Sony doesn’t bring in the PS4 around the same time, it’s very likely that it will lose out on the early adopter business, for whom the price difference and early access will counter the risk of importing.

That risk is the lack of warranty. Sony India does not service consoles purchased outside India, especially those from non-PAL regions (like Hong Kong). With both the PS3 and Xbox 360 notorious for hardware issues at lauch, it’s definitely a risk importing the PS4, but it’s not something Sony India should bank on.

With the PS4 priced at roughly 40,000 Yen in Japan, we can assume a price of about HK$ 3,100 to $3,500 in Hong Kong. That converts to Rs 24,800 to Rs 28,000 at current exchange rates, which is two or three games worth less than the Rs 35,000 price tag many are estimating for the console in India.

Sony India may not be able to do much about that price difference – unlike grey importers, Sony cannot work around import and customs duties – but what a December release in India would do is dissuade many retailers from taking on imported PS4 consoles. What a December release in India would also do is make early adopters think twice about forgoing that all-important warranty.

It’s worth mentioning that India does not fall under the purview of Sony Computer Entertainment Asia, but rather under PlayStation’s European division. So Indian release is in no way related to South East Asia, but is likely to be clubbed with the Middle East. Similarly, pricing is likely to be determined by exchange rates in relation with the Euro rather than the Yen.

Whether or not Sony India can manage a December release remains to be seen, but with less than two months to go before the console launches in North America and Europe, it’s high time it announced its release plans.

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