By Ian Sherr and Daisuke Wakabayashi
Sony Corp. is planning to unveil its next-generation home videogame console during a February event, showing off a successor to its current PlayStation 3 system.
The Japanese electronics giant Thursday unveiled plans for a special PlayStation-themed event set for Feb. 20, teasing fans to “see the future” at the event. People familiar with the matter have said the new device will make its debut there, beating Microsoft Corp. to the punch in announcing its own next-generation game machine.
Sony’s device will be released later this year, these people said, and will spar against Microsoft’s own machine, which is also expected to be released by the holidays.
Sony’s updated console’s arrival comes as the console videogame industry has entered a tailspin. Sales of new videogames, consoles and accessories at U.S. retail shops fell 22% in December when compared with the same time a year prior, according to surveys by industry watcher NPD Group.
In another sign of the difficult environment for traditional videogame machines, Nintendo Co. slashed sales forecasts for its new home console, the Wii U, earlier this week. After launching its first new home console in six years in November, Nintendo said Wii U sales disappointed during the holiday shopping season. The company is now forecasting plans to sell 4 million units versus an earlier estimate for 5.5 million units.
The videogame industry is undergoing a sea change. While videogames used to be limited to dedicated game machines and personal computers, the proliferation of smartphones and other Internet connected devices is opening the floodgates to free or inexpensive games.
(Published Feb 1, 2013, in The Wall Street Journal.)