Sony yesterday announced that the PlayStation 4 would retail for Rs 39,990 in India, and while that didn't come as a surprise considering everything we've been hearing over the last few weeks, reactions from consumers on forums and social media have been largely negative.
Following the PS4 price announcement, one retailer told MCV India that it has received several preorder cancellation requests. While many have put off their PS4 purchases until the price drops in India, others are looking at importing the console or buying it from the local grey market at a lower price. That lower price does come with its fair share of risks and there are lots of questions floating around regarding warranty implications, region-locking, etc with respect to PS4 imports.
So here's a list of ten things you should keep in mind when deciding between import and official.
The single biggest reason for the spike in demand for PS4 imports is the difference between the price in India and other countries around the world. It is a substantial difference, thanks mostly to India's bloated tax structure and import duties. While the Indian MRP for the PlayStation 4 is Rs 39,990, the prices in Dubai and Hong Kong, where the PS4 went on sale earlier this week, convert to roughly Rs 28,000 – that's a big Rs 12,000 difference. The PS4 is cheaper still in the US (converting to Rs 25,000).
That said, it's almost impossible for you to get the PS4 at those prices here unless you lug it in yourself. PS4 units that you'll find in grey market going forward will likely come from Dubai or Hong Kong, and now that Sony India has announced its price, it will be interesting to see how much of a premium over that Rs 28,000 the grey market dealers will charge in India, while still pricing lower than the official price.
Shipping and customs charges
If you thought Sony India was just using import duties as an excuse for pricing the PS4 higher in India, try importing one yourself. Shipping charges and the customs duties levied on shipments in India, even for individuals, are ridiculously high. The PS4 is a big, heavy package and you'll want to have it shipped using the safest and most secure service. That won't come cheap. Then, once it reaches Indian shores, the government will slap import and customs duties on your shipment.
The best indicator of how much these shipping charges and duties add up to is Amazon.com. The PS4 is priced at Rs 25,000 in the US, but if you choose to have it shipped to India from Amazon, you'll end up paying close to Rs 37,000. So you're paying Rs 12,000 (almost 50% of the console's price) in just shipping charges and duties. That said, Rs 37,000 is still less than Rs 39,990.
Warranty and support
The biggest argument against importing the PlayStation 4 or buying it from the grey market is warranty. If your PS4 is not bought officially from India, Sony will not provide any sort of warranty coverage should something go wrong with the hardware. If you do happen to import it from the Middle East or Europe (PAL territories), you still won't get warranty, but if the console does die on you, Sony will give you a new PS4 as replacement for 50% of the Indian MRP. That benefit is not extended to PS4s purchased from non-PAL countries.
New consoles have been known to have hardware issues in the past, and while there are no alarming issues being reported for the PS4 just yet, it's still a risk buying a launch console without warranty. So whether or not you import the PS4 is very much a case of weighing the risk of a hardware failure against the benefit of saving a few thousand Rupees.
Contrary to popular belief, PlayStation 4 disc-based games are not region-locked. Regardless of where you buy the PS4 from, you can buy games from anywhere in the world and they'll work with your console just fine. For example, you could buy the console from Honk Kong, and games purchased from India, Europe, Japan and the US will work on it.
With Sony's PS4 games being priced at Rs 4,000 in India, and EA's even higher, there's also money to be saved in importing your PS4 games, especially since games are region-free. Game prices are already dropping in the UK, and games are also likely to get cheaper in South East Asia over the coming months. Several e-commerce sites around the world will ship games to India, and some even offer free shipping. The likes of Ubisoft, Warner Bros, 2K and Square Enix have been quite competitive with their PS4 game prices in India, but if other game prices locally get too high, there are alternatives. You can already find EA's PS4 games in the Indian grey market for a lot less than the official Rs 4,499 pricing.
Things get a little complicated when we get into the DLC scenario. Like with the PS3, you'll have to buy DLC from the region that your game disc belongs to. If you've bought a game from the US, DLC for it will only work if purchased from the US PlayStation Store. However, there is a way around this restriction. If you need DLC for a game you've bought from the US, you can create a secondary US PSN account and buy the DLC through that. Once purchased, that DLC will also become available when you play the game through your primary Indian PSN account.
Region-locked Blu-ray movies
The PS4 is also a rather competent Blu-ray player, but while you can play Blu-ray disc-based PS4 games purchased from anywhere in the world, Blu-ray movies are region-locked. That means your PS4 will only play Blu-ray movies that are either region-free or purchased from the region your console belongs to. Unlike the PAL/NTSC division for DVDs, Blu-rays are broken up into three regions denoted by alphabets (this map explains it well). Over the years though, most movie studios have ditched region-locking, so most of the Blu-ray movies you'll pick up these days will be region-free and will work on any PS4. There are exceptions, of course. You can find an exhaustive list of region-free Blu-ray movies here.
One of the major concerns for people interested in importing the PlayStation 4 has been the console's power requirements and whether it would require a step-up/down converter to work in India if imported. The good news is that, like the PS3, the PS4 has an internal universal power supply, which means that all you'll need to do is find a plug adaptor so that the power plug you get with the PS4 can be used with Indian power sockets. Or you could simply replace the power cable with one that has an Indian plug. You won't need any additional hardware for the PS4 to work in India.
There's a bit of confusion about this as well, so to clarify, your PlayStation Network account is in no way connected to the country or region your PS4 was purchased from. So even if you do buy the PS4 from the US or Dubai, you can have an Indian PSN account set up on it, and you can have a US or UK account as your primary on a console purchased in India. As always, you can also have additional secondary PSN accounts on the same PS4, either of the same or other countries.
There have been reports of PlayStation 4 consoles sold in Europe being manufactured in Japan, while PS4s sold in America are China-made. We're not sure how true this is, but even if it is, none of that may apply to India. India and the Middle East get the Russian SKU, the origins of which aren't clear. The only other change in the hardware is noticed in consoles purchased from South East Asia or Japan. In PlayStation consoles sold there, the functions of the [X] and [O] buttons on the controller are interchanged. In India, and in the West, we're used to pressing [X] to select items and [O] is to go back, but the opposite is the case in South East Asian and Japanese consoles. So if you do happen to import from Hong Kong, be prepared for the interchanged button functions.
When it all comes down to it, hardware specifics, region-locking and power requirements are inconsequential when choosing between the official Indian PS4 and an import unit. The biggest decision comes in weighing the cost benefit that comes from buying from the grey market versus the warranty you'll get from the official Indian purchase. Grey market prices are unlikely to be drastically lower than the Indian MRP, so it might be wise to pay that extra Rs 5,000-odd for support and warranty, and the peace of mind that comes with it. However, if you can manage to import the console yourself and avoid shipping charges, duties, and grey market premiums, the Rs 12,000-15,000 saving is definitely worth considering.
There's no wrong choice here, and regardless of which way you go, you'll have unrestricted access to all of the PS4's features; just as long as the hardware holds up.
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