This story originally appeared as an opinion piece on Abacus The PlayStation 5 is almost here. Sony will show off their new console in a pre-recorded video on Thursday. Gamers around the world will be tuning in for their first glimpse at the latest PlayStation… even in China, where it’ll be 4am. “Staying up late!” said one poster on Weibo . Another said “I’ll just buy it the moment it launches!” The PlayStation 5 will arrive right as China’s massive gaming industry is investing more in console games than ever before. But that doesn’t mean the PS5’s success in the country is assured. Chinese players have historically preferred to play games on PCs and smartphones. Part of the reason for that is that consoles were actually banned entirely in the country until as recently as 2015. Why the impact of China’s 15-year console ban still lingers today Of course, that doesn’t mean they were completely unavailable; gray market imports meant easy access to any console, albeit for a price. But the lower barrier to entry allowed PC and smartphone gaming to thrive. And it was in smartphones where Chinese gaming companies really started to make a name for themselves. Tencent and NetEase proved so proficient at building full gaming experiences on mobile devices that they secured the licenses to convert huge franchises like Call of Duty and Diablo for smartphones . But now those companies are looking towards console games. Tencent scored deals with Japanese console-focused developers PlatinumGames and Marvelous . NetEase pumped US$100 million into Halo creator Bungie and established a console-focused development studio in Tokyo . It’s not just the big guns either: When Microsoft released a video to demonstrate the power of its new Xbox Series X console, the first game it chose to showcase was Bright Memory: Infinite, a Chinese game famous for largely being made by a single person . Sony itself has been trying to tap into China’s burgeoning console development talent. It launched the China Hero Project , an initiative to invest in and promote PlayStation 4 games made by Chinese developers, some with distinctly Chinese themes -- like Monkey King: Hero is Back. (Our reviewer found that it wasn’t a very good game , but I suppose it’s the thought that counts.) And all of that investment is paying off: China now has at least 11 million console gamers, according to Niko Partners , and will grow beyond 19 million users in 2024. So: More Chinese gamers are playing console games. More Chinese companies are making console games. And Sony is funding console games tailored for China. Seems like everything’s in place for the PlayStation 5 to succeed, right? Well, not so fast. As always, there’s one particular problem that always crops up with China: Regulation. China may be the world’s most lucrative gaming market, but it’s also the most restrictive. The country has strict controls on exactly what is and isn’t approved for sale, with some games forced to make almost comical changes to get by the censors. Chinese gamers are used to finding ways to get around the restrictions imposed on them. The country’s PC gamers rely on the international version of Steam to give them access to games that would normally be blocked. PlayStation 4 fans managed to get around their own limited offerings by using a secret feature that allowed them to access foreign versions of the PlayStation Store that had no such restrictions. But that feature was apparently patched out in a new software update, days after Sony shut down the PlayStation Store in China for a “system security update.” The first Chinese gamers to get their hands on the PlayStation 5 will likely do so through the grey market. But for the console to have any chance of wider success in the country, Sony will either need plenty of local games -- or another secret way for Chinese gamers to access overseas games. For a cautionary tale, consider the case of the Nintendo Switch. The system was officially released in China in partnership with Tencent, but the local version is a dud . It’s not hard to see why: After six months on sale, there are just four games available to buy. (And Animal Crossing is not one of them .) The irony is that the Switch -- or at least, the international version of it -- is widely coveted by Chinese gamers, but not enough that they’d settle for the limited local version. And therein lies the task for Sony in China: Balancing the needs of gamers with the demands of authorities. Get it right, and the company may finally be able to crack China's growing console market.