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PS Sigh: How Sony Is Letting Down Its Southeast Asia Market

Update: A mere 15 minutes before this article went live, we found out via PlayStation Japan’s official Twitter account that the PlayStation 5 won’t be available on 12th November for in-store purchases. Sony Worldwide Studios former head honcho, Shuhei Yoshida also shared the same information:

Update 2: Something probably got lost in translation; what we gather was that PS5 is still coming to Japan this 12th, but only via deliveries for those who pre-ordered it. No walk-ins or on-the-day purchases available due to safety measures regarding Covid-19.

We apologize for any confusion that may arise. But our point still stands.

Anyway, back to the main meat of the story.

At the time of writing, we are exactly a week away from the release date of the PlayStation 5 in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan , Mexico and South Korea. Sony’s next-gen console will then release in other markets worldwide a week later, on the 19th. Is it a great time to be a gamer? You bet.

However, if you live in Malaysia, or any neighbouring Southeast Asian countries save for maybe Singapore, you are in the dark. Believe it or not, we do not know when it will be officially reaching our shores. Heck, we don’t even have any information on pre-orders!

Can you believe that? In 2020. The Southeast Asia market is still behind when it comes to access to the latest technology. A quick check with my media friends out of Manila and Jakarta resulted with similar answers. Like Malaysia, both markets have very little to zero knowledge in regards to the PS5.

A Forgotten Cause?

Now if it’s always been the case with their past gen products, with say, the way it has always been with Microsoft and their Xbox, I would not be so worked up. Microsoft had focused on very few niche markets in Asia, namely Singapore and Hong Kong for the lifecycle of the Xbox One and its subsequent upgraded iterations.

Their absence or lack of presence in regards to the marketing of the Xbox Series S and X in Southeast Asia is very much expected. I am disappointed but totally not surprised. For better or worse, at least they are consistent.

However, this hits differently with Sony and the PS5. At the end of the PlayStation 3’s lifecycle, even before the reveal of the PlayStation 4, I personally witnessed a shift in their marketing strategy. They started paying attention to the Asian market. Specifically, the SEA region. SEA media were invited to special junkets for games releases.

Several legendary game makers were flown down to these parts of the world to promote their games. Regardless of the size and stature of your website or YouTube channel, you were equally informed. We felt … valued.

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s (SIE) focus in the region ramped up during the early years of the PS4, They even set up an office in Singapore. Now much closer to the Southeast Asian market instead of commandeering from afar in Hong Kong, their local teams did the smart move of recruiting the best Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and of course, Singapore had to offer. These people were on point. They know their market better than Microsoft ever could.

They got acquainted with not only the media who were obviously enthusiastic with this development but also the local distributors, brick and mortar outlets and set up a chain of collaborations ranging from upcoming YouTubers and most recently, “influencers”. Needless to say, during a period where Microsoft didn’t bother to give the SEA market even a peep, Sony charged full-on with the SEA market. As a direct result of that, this makes them the undisputed leader in the Asian home console-sphere.

So what gives with this sudden uncharacteristic, drop in communication and support for a market that has always been so supportive leading up to the release of the PS5? It is definitely perplexing when not only were we kept in the dark, we weren’t even given any clues whatsoever on what to expect immediately following the official global reveal of the PS5.

It was as if the specific cable responsible for channeling information for SEA markets was violently and abruptly yanked off its source in September. Repeated emails inquiring about the current status of availability, pre-order dates and whether we are even going to get the PS5 on time were met with a cold ‘PS5 news will be announced when ready’ statement which quite frankly, raised more questions than answers.

While our peers in the States are already unboxing and reviewing their PS5 units, the closest any SEA media got to the PS5 was last week when our Singaporean media friends were invited to try out the PS5 at SIE offices in Singapore. Needless to say, folks in other SEA countries outside of Singapore are still stuck with present gen for a foreseeable time.

A 2020 Conundrum

Look. We totally get it if that, due to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic which pretty much threw their plans for 2020 into the fire, the Asian market will inevitably face a delay in supplies and stocks of the next-gen peripherals. At a time where for many, finance has slowly become a tetchy subject, perhaps the delay of the PS5 might be a blessing in disguise. The money saved for next-gen console could be better used elsewhere, like for paying bills or making rent, or saving up for another world-affecting catastrophe.

But what we do not appreciate is the sense that we are being treated as second-class citizens in this regard. In spite of the unwavering support the Asian market has given after all these years, the majority of it is still considered as an afterthought. Or even worse, taken for granted considering PlayStation’s dominant position in the market. An acknowledgement or effort in informing us would have meant a lot.

Make no mistake, Sony, that Microsoft’s decision of “abandoning” the majority of the SEA market played a huge role in coaxing gamers to shift their focus to you throughout the lifecycle of the PS4.

There was a time when all SEA countries were treated as equals. Purchasing your PS4 in any country in the region grants a region-wide warranty service. An unexpected step which while very few gamers have taken advantage of, was still, a welcomed offering. Sadly, it is a stark contrast nowadays, when, in their most recent marketing stunt to promote the PS5, revealed that entries from some countries only qualify to win lower-tiered prizes in their contest.

The biggest slap in the face? For the upcoming PlayStation 5 Asia celebration, only entries from a handful of Asian countries are eligible to win the big prize, which is obviously the PS5.

Woo hoo, I can’t wait to win a Space Fantasy Theme for my last-gen device. Thank you, PlayStation Asia!

In closing, what is the main issue here? Logistics? Market prioritization? Tiered importance? If SIE is concerned about the number of units they will actually be able to sell, then they should have focused on larger markets such as Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia. A PS5 sold in Jakarta is no less valuable than one sold in Qisahn. A PS Plus user in Kuala Lumpur is as important as the one living in Lavender.

And no, SIE: Singapore does not represent the Southeast Asia market. Putting my tinfoil hat on, perhaps Sony is so confident of their position in this market that they have opted to shift their focus on bigger battlegrounds of North America and Europe where the breakdown between PlayStation and Xbox are still very even, while Asia is very much a fixed deposit for them. The battle has been won! Trim down the garrison! Send troops elsewhere! Oh, please tell me I’m wrong here.

Just remember, Sony: loyalty begets loyalty. Even a tinge of neglect will be swiftly followed by a market speaking their minds with their wallets. Relationships work both way; don’t leave either side hanging or assuming the worst.


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