Buying a PS2 in Shanghai

I went to my local video game shop last weekend. I took a look at the PlayStation 2 prices. I’m pretty sure this is what they were:

– Imported PS2 with mod chip installed + 1 locally manufactured controller + 10 free games: 1399 RMB
– Imported PS2 with mod chip installed + 1 imported controller + 10 free games: 1499 RMB
– Locally manufactured PS2 with mod chip installed + 1 locally manufactured controller + 10 free games: 1599 RMB
– Locally manufactured PS2 with mod chip installed + 1 imported controller + 10 free games: 1699 RMB
– imported 8 MB memory cards: 149 RMB
– imported controllers: 149 rmb

That’s right, the PS2’s manufactured in China cost more, and according to the owner the quality isn’t as good. I asked the owner why. The conversation went something like this:

> Me: Why are the ones made in China more expensive? Shouldn’t they be cheaper?

> Owner: Sony is Japanese! The Japanese always do this! They make good stuff and sell it to the USA, then they sell all the crappy electronics in China, for higher prices than the good stuff sells for in the USA! Why do you think we hate the Japanese?

> Me: Ummm, I thought that had something to do with historical events…

> Owner: No, this is why!

A very “Shanghai moment,” that.

The imported controllers are more expensive than locally manufactured ones, though. The owner highly recommends them, as the locally manufactured ones break/wear out too easily.

In that shop, pirated PS2 games go for 5 RMB each! I remember when I was a teenager I had to mow quite a few lawns to earn the money I needed to buy the NES cartridges I was dying to have. Nowadays, kids in Shanghai can get the newest video games for pocket change. The cost of the system itself is a bit prohibitive, though.

While I was in the shop, there was a high school boy in there seeking out the owner with all the anxiety of a parent going to visit a sick child in the hospital. It seems his mom got so fed up with his excessive game playing that she picked up his PS2 and smashed it against the ground. The owner said he could actually fix it! Meanwhile, the kid, in desperate need of his video game fix, was returning to the shop every few hours to inquire about the status of his precious PS2.

One of the games the owner was recommending was God of War. Now, I pretty much outgrew video games in college (except for the occasional game of StarCraft or original Alien Hominid), but this game had the magic to draw me completely back in. At least for a little while. There’s just one word for this game: stunning. (Also shockingly violent — not for the kiddies!) Greek mythology has never been so fun (even if it is a bit off).

If you know me, you surely know about my staunch anti-piracy stance. All this rampant piracy in China should not be supported.

But yeah, I’ve been playing quite a bit of PS2 lately.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Kastner Says: July 29, 2005 at 8:05 am

    Hey John, you mentioned they’re pirated! 5 Yuan is for the dics cost, even cheaper I think.
    To tell the truth, games are not welcomed by most Chinese parents, I don’t even know why my mum hate me playing any games till today. The excuse was games disturb study. LOL Weird~~~ Children should play games without letting their parents know, only in this way can they ENJOY them.

  2. Kastner Says: July 29, 2005 at 8:08 am

    uhh??? John, why prices are not the same for the first combination and the fourth one?

  3. Kastner,

    Oops. I fixed it. The systems are not the same.

  4. You can’t get official PS2 games in China, or any other official video games for that matter. Unsurprisingly, due to the piracy issue, Sony decided not to release their games in China. Of course that didn’t deter the pirate makers, if anything it suited them just fine.

    It sounds like SH is slightly more expensive then BJ, I bought a PS2 with two original controls and 10 games for 1500 last year. And talking about kids playing games, I have entrusted my son to be responsible himself and he seems to be doing well.

  5. Cat,

    I think this shop might be a little more expensive than others because it has such good service. It guarantees all the systems it sells for a decent length of time (I forget how long). Apparently the owner also frequently does things like fixing old customer’s systems for free.

  6. nathaniel Says: July 29, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    I think the reason given to me when I bought one was: the imported system can’t play pirated CD. Ergo, it will be more expensive in the long run to buy original CDs everytime. The local system will do just fine with the pirated CDs. Er, don’t ask me which one I brought home.

  7. Huh, you even paste the links for the games. You PS2 geek.

  8. Some PS2s, not sure which model, are running for 1200-1300 RMB in Beijing.

  9. greg pasden Says: July 31, 2005 at 5:50 am

    Are you getting good prices on the games. What language do the voices use?

  10. Greg,

    Yeah, 5rmb is a good price.

    Most of the games are in Japanese. Some have Japanese text but English audio.

  11. Hey John,

    Can u tell me where can I buy a PS2(English version)? I checked with the Sony dealers and they said that they only sell Chinese version one.

  12. Girish,

    I’m not sure what you mean by “English version PS2.” The PS2 I got was imported from either the US or Japan (not sure which), but the menu screens are all in Chinese.

  13. Hey John,

    I want the one with English menus. Do u know where I can get it in Shanghai?

  14. Girish,

    No, sorry.

  15. You can for sure switch the menu from chinese (default set-up) to english. You can ask the local shop to do it for you when you buy your PS2.

    In Beijing, I got my PS2 (the thin one) for RMB1600 which include M-Chip (and another device for the cooling system), 2 controllers, 8MB memory card and 6 games.

  16. Mary Steven Says: August 10, 2005 at 2:00 am

    Hi John,

    I have a friend (fluent Chinese speaker) who often visits China for academic purposes. I was thinking of asking her to bring me back some (SD) memory cards. Do you think this is wise? I was under the impression that unlike PS2s memory cards etc. were made in China? (Isn’t the guy who invented the USB drive Chinese?)



  17. John,

    Where can I buy English PS2 Games? Is there a store or somethng in or nearby Pudong?

  18. I went to Digital Centre by Century Park in Pudong, and I picked up a slim PS2, with mod chip, one controller, one memory card for 1450 RMB. Seems like I could’ve gotten a better deal some other place.

    I’d also like to know where there’s a video game store in Pudong. I did by some games, but it was from this little shop in Digital Centre, and they had a fairly limited selection of games. One of the DVDs was punched incorrectlly and it won’t fit in the PS2 so it can’t run. 10 RMB each.

    I’d love to pick up GT4 in English (they only had Chinese) and GTA: San Andreas, but so far luck is not on my side.

    But where I come from, the tax on consumer products makes the slim PS2 there pretty much the same price it is here, and I got a mod chip.

  19. I’d like to know where there is a video game store in Shanghai (anywhere in Shanghai) where I can buy joysticks for PS2, Xbox, etc.

    Marcus Pizzato

  20. Joe Hill Says: April 8, 2006 at 12:48 am

    In the U.S. a playstation now costs only $150, but it’s a flip open one, lol. How mush is a RMB in American dollars, any one?


  21. maxibangladesh Says: April 14, 2006 at 3:48 am

    hey john! im going to beijing this summer, im going to buy ps2 and alot of pirated video games, because i love snk and they are going to have kofXI and Metal slug 6!!

    anyways i heard that the ps2 games in china are mostly japanese and the ps2 games also come with the cover art in color and the whole manual booklet in color!! is this true??

    or is it just the disk of the game thats pirated when you buy it??? how much are ps2s in china?? like 20 or 30$$?? anyways i know most ps2s in china are modded and are able to play imports,copies and originals!!

  22. maxibangladesh Says: April 14, 2006 at 3:50 am

    by the way john, please email me back with your answer! because i web surf too much and i dont know if i can remember or find this site in the future!! i go through search engines that have thousands of results!

  23. hey John! I just got back from Shenzhen and picked up about 20 games for less than half the cost of one new game here in the US. Now all I need to do is modify my playstation to play them. When I was there the exchange rate was about 800 rmb for 100 us dollars. What a great place.

  24. hi there john
    I am an Indian studying in saudi arabia and now my mom is in hong kong so I asked her to get me a ps2 while coming back: i thought that chinese products are cheap beacuse the chinese things which you get in saudi are really cheap when compared to other asian country products.Here for a dvd player it costs about 250 RMB so I expected for the ps2s to be cheap but they are exactly equal in price when converted 1500 RMB to SAR(Saudi riyal) anyway i found out that ps2s you get there has chinese interface I mean options menus etc are in chinese language so is there anyway to change this to english and talking about dvd PS2 games its really cheap but again the games are in chinese.So my question is to everyone is that is there any place in china here you will get this:ps2 & games in english?

  25. i mean its WHERE

  26. Hey im also looking for a ps2 in shanghai anyone know where i can get one? Doesnt matter which store it could be the most ugliest store youve ever seen but the games and everything have to be in english.

  27. Hey John i wanted to get my PS2 chipped so i can play pirated games and films on it. do u kno if i can get that done in shanghai and if so roughly how much wud it cost, Thankx

  28. hey john, how do you get the ps2 games from china to work

  29. John, Great site for information. I also bought games while in China. How do you get these to work on US PS2? Any information would be greatly appriciated. Thanks!

  30. Tyler and Fred,

    To play Chinese copied PS2 games in US Playstations, you need to get a “mod chip.” They’re illegal in the US.

  31. Hey John,

    Just found your site, lots of great info. Wondering if you could please give me the name of the local store you frequent, sounds good. I’d like to buy a modded console + games, not sure where as I’m new here. I live near Nanjing rd, if you know of one nearby, that would be great, though I’m willing to go anywhere to find a decent setup. (You don’t need to post the answer if you don’t want).


  32. Ed,

    The shop I used to go to was on the corner of Zhongshan Bei Lu and Changning Lu. I haven’t been in months.

  33. Where can I buy a cheap PS2 in Da Lian? Does anyone know? I can’t speak Chinese so the seller is asking me to pay a very high price.

  34. I bought a ps2 in xi’an, China…..I figured the slim-model ps2s couldn’t play DVDs, but now I’m back in Canada and my friends who have ps2s they bought here CAN play DVDs. Am I the only one who has a ps2 that can’t read any dvds?

  35. ian,

    though luck. your’s was probably modded. i hear often, and also been victim, of modded PS2slims which loose their DVD function. if i am correct your’s will not even recognise the disc inserted as a movie DVD but keeps insisting it is a PS2 disc.. haven’t found a fix for it it but returning it to the modder and have him fix it.

  36. John,

    I just purchased some PS2 games and DVD movies in Shanghai, the movies I can play no problem, the games are not being recognized by the console, I read about the modchip but I really don’t know where I can get one since they are illegal and all. I was wondering if anyone found another fix if dvd’s are able to play on the console/ aside from the chip? Thanks in advance.

  37. hey…um i have a normal American PS2, but recently when visiting China, i bought some Chinese games for a good price. Unfortunately, these games are readng “disc error, insert formatting disc” is there anyway to re-format these games to make the Chinese ones work in the good old USA??

  38. I purchased a sony ps2 $140 . For playing pirated cds i need to add a chip but it will make the warranty non valid. Is it advisable to do this or continue playing original cds (which costs much more ) for one year and after warranty period is over do this chip addition. Can somebody please advise me what to do as per their experience.

  39. just a quick question, i am going to Xi’an soon to work there,

    i want to play all my canadian ps2 games over there. do i brin my ps2 over with a convertor ( or should i buy one there (moded ones). since it seems buying one there is alot easier to do then bringing a fat ps2 over, lol

  40. Hey, my auntie is going over to beijing in a few months. How much would a psp or ps3 cost over there nowadays. Can you buy psp games over there? Can u please email it because i will will probably never remeber this site since i found it through google!

  41. My mom’s fiance just came back from a business trip in china. He picked me up a few ps2 games there but i recently found out i couldnt play them without a mod chip. I looked into the crystal chips but it said they do not allow the use of pirated games for some stupid legal reasons. It would be great if you could point me in the right direction of the chip i need to be able to play pirated games(the cheapest chip if at allpossible). Thanks

  42. Hello i am now in Xian, and have alot free time, so i was hoping to hook up my ps2. i brought mine from canada, but my power convertor’s fuse went, (in 3 mins 🙁 ), so i decided to just buy one here with chip, but i am not sure where i would get one, i was hoping someone can help me. i don;t mind ordering online or going to shop in Xian, but need know where shop is, can anyone help me with this


  43. Guys are there any english ps2 games in shanghai? Because i was thinking of getting some ps2 games. And i want to mod my ps2 to play the pirated games but i dont really trust the people here. You never know what might happen.. they might change ur internal chips with some cheap fake craps….

  44. I am living in nanjing now.I want to play ps1 again.But the problem isa i left my ps 2 in my home country and i dont’ have a pc.And i don’t have money to buy those two.So can somebody tell me where to buy ps 1 in nanjing .

  45. Anthony Says: March 3, 2008 at 9:51 am

    Im staying in Beijing for a year and brought my PS2 up from Australia. Went out and bought a heap of cheap pirated games in Beijing but now i cant play them. Does you know where i can get a mod chip in Beijing so i can play these games?

  46. Im staying at shanghai, may i have the address of the shop so i can go and check? im at pu dong and there are no game shops near my house… the pirated games from a shop i know wont work >_>

  47. Sony is stupid – it can sell more PS2s in China than it can in the USA. IN the USA there are fewer people but can pay more, which is the only attraction. Even if the Chinese pay less, they can buy a great deal more if the price is right – so that balances things out. Sony should open a factory in China and manufacture PS2s for China. If Sony wants limited sales and higher profits then USA is alright. But if it wants to sell more a really great deal more than it should be lower its prices so that almost every Chinese kid can have one. Bulk sales make more money. Even the game makers should see things on those lines. Adjoining China is India with a population of one billion people about a million can buy Sony Ps2 if the price is right and best of all they know English very well – game makers do not have to change the language for India. Bulk sales is the name of the game.

  48. I visited Beijing last month and saw these cheap Playstation games. I am not very good in bargaining, so I paid 30yuans for one. I bought some for my godson, but he was very sad as they do not work in UK. All three discs have some data on it, but console says insert PS2 format disc. Should I throw them away or is there any way how to make it run?

  49. HowieTheFink Says: January 18, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Sony knew exactly what they were doing when the decision was made to not allow the legal sale of either their PS2 hardware or software in the Chinese market. China being what it is, Sony execs knew that they would only be taking a loss in this market if they decided to sell in China.

    The piracy in China is essentially out of control and for every bootlegged game doled out for five Yuan, Sony loses a sale of a legal PS2 game. In the console video game industry, the big names believe its okay to take a loss on the hardware, for its common knowledge that the profit is in the games.

    So what would you do if you were in the shoes of a Sony exec faced with the decision of releasing hardware in a market that is guaranteed to pirate the profitable piece of your pie? With the virtually millions of bootlegged PS2 discs in China, I can understand Sony’s stance towards the Chinese marketplace. If the Chinese insist on being illegal software pirates, then don’t sail in their waters.

    BTW, this is the place where ‘consumer products’ like fake medicine, lead-laced toys, and poisoned baby formula circulate with alarming frequency. Are you completely sure that shiny, new PS2 slim is authentic and hasn’t had the OEM parts swapped out in exchange for some crappy Chinese knockoffs? There’s a reason why those consoles have half the features disabled in them (such as DVD playback), and it’s because some jerk opens the case, munges around with the components, and installs some crappy modchip so he can sell Chinglish PS2 games for five Yuan apiece.

  50. What’s with China or the big bad Sony? Why it is so difficult to make things right. Piracy exists everywhere. But in China it has gotten out of hands. Heard that over 90% cd/dvd are copies (illegal copies). Even augthorities are constantly closing the shops that sells pirate discs/things.

    I reside currently in China. And would want to buy some ps2 games or for other consoles too. Haven’t found yet but original nintendos due to the price, maybe.

  51. […] while back I blogged about buying a PS2 in China, and there was a lot of interest. There’s not much to say about PS3, because it is so far […]

  52. Want to buy a console in China? It’s easy…

    Even though video game consoles are not officially on the market in China yet, it’s not hard to find any of them in the major cities like Beijing, where I live, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Any o……

  53. Is there any place in Shanghai to find older Xbox 360 games? My son is wanting a Star Wars game from 2005 and all we can find are games released in the last two years. Also, If we have no luck finding it, will games purchased from the US work on our machine here?

  54. Shubhankar Says: October 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    Hey john,
    Do you know any shops that sell PSP games in Pudong new district?

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