Early in May, Sony temporarily closed down the Chinese PlayStation Store, ostensibly to work on what it called “system security upgrades.” When the store reopened last week after a new system update was released, Chinese gamers found that a backdoor that previously allowed them to purchase and download games from outside the Chinese PlayStation Store no longer functioned.
The South China Morning Post broke the news regarding the system update’s effects and mentioned conflicting reports on Chinese social media, which indicate some users who had previously activated the backdoor are still able to utilize overseas servers to obtain games.
When Chinese bans on foreign-made game consoles were lifted in 2014, the government made it clear that individual games would still need to be vetted by the State Administration of Press and Publications in much the same way as films from overseas.
As a result, while the rest of the world has access to over 4000 PS4 titles, Chinese gamers are limited to a library of approximately 150 titles as of April 2018. The SCMP mentioned that since that time, the SAPP has only approved eight new titles for release.
However, the backdoor was something of an open secret among Chinese PS4 owners. It allowed players to access overseas versions of the PlayStation Store to purchase titles that had not been vetted by the SAPP and download them without the hassle of trying to obtain them through the gray or black markets.
The backdoor was unique to the Chinese localized version of the PS4, which suggests that other methods of circumventing content restrictions used in other countries would not have worked.
Reuters had reported earlier last month that a gamer on Weibo (China’s state-approved answer to Twitter) had informed the back door to Chinese authorities and was being heavily criticized by other users for it.