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Fri, Jul 13, 2007 - Page 10 News List

Sony optimistic in struggle against Nintendo

AFP , SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA

Sony Corp says its PlayStation 3 (PS3) is still a contender as Nintendo Co gleefully vowed on Wednesday to turn everyone into a "gamer" and proclaimed this year a turning point in the industry.

"We see today as a celebration for all of us," Nintendo of America chief executive Reggie Fils-Aime said during an opening speech at the E3 Media and Business Summit in Santa Monica, California. "E3 2007 could be seen as a coming out party for the video game industry: A time when video games take their place with movies and television as a staple of entertainment."

Fils-Aime proudly said that Nintendo is riding a wave of popularity so strong that it has been selling Wii consoles as fast as it makes them since sales began in November.

Wii is poised to become the top video game console in the world by the end of the year, Nintendo said.

"I don't live in a cave; I know some people are saying it's just a fad," Fils-Aime said as he showed previews of Wii and Nintendo DS portable game titles to be released in coming months. "Nintendo is not a fad. It is the future and it is little surprise the developer community is responding accordingly."

Nintendo unveiled an Uzi-shaped motion-sensing controller dubbed "Zapper" to lure more players into battle games and appeal to hard-core gamers devoted to first-person shooter titles.

"The Wii Zapper holds the same potential to change the nature of first-person shooters as the Wii remote did to other games," Fils-Aime said. "What's even more fun than whack-a-mole? Try zap-a-zombie."

Nintendo is commandeering the core of a video game market long-dominated by Sony's PlayStation consoles, according to analysts attending the invitation-only gathering of the industry's elite.

Sony kicked off its own news conference on Wednesday by reminding people it lopped US$100 from the price of its 60-gigabyte PS3 console and will bring an 80-gigabyte version to market later this year for US$599.

Sales of the 60-gigabyte PS3 consoles have doubled since the price was dropped to US$499 on Monday, Sony Computer Entertainment America chief executive Jack Trenton said.

Sony's news conference focused on new games coming out this year and early next year for PlayStation 2, PS3 and handheld PSP game devices.

"We feel we are in a very strong position heading into the holidays and are confident we will maintain our leading role," Trenton said.

Sony reports that sales of Sony PSP handhelds jumped 90 percent after the price was dropped to US$169 earlier this year.

Trenton said the primary goals for PS3 are to win users and create games and online experiences that take advantage of the consoles' full capabilities, including the Blu-ray high density video function that pumped up its cost.

"We feel strongly that the new price will draw new users," Trenton said, predicting Sony will ship 11 million PS3 consoles worldwide this year.

The company also announced that a slimmer, lighter PSP handheld video game will be on the market in time for Christmas when its president Kaz Hirai pulled one of the PSP devices from his pocket during the press conference.

The revamped PSP has better battery life and video display, Hirai said.

The new PSPs are to be on store shelves in September with a price tag of about US$170, on par with the current model.

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