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Sony Not Out Of The Play

Los Angeles — For the second year in a row, Sony found itself in what must be unfamiliar territory in the video game arena. Namely, the company isn’t dominating the industry with the top-selling console in this cycle. The PlayStation3, which is now in its second year, continues to trail the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360.

But according to Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, “2008 is the year of the PS3. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface.”

Speaking at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo Business Summit in Los Angeles, Tretton stressed that it was 15 years ago this week when Sony’s executive’s decided to green-light the original PlayStation, which went on to sell more 100 million units worldwide. Additionally, said Tretton, the company remains focused on a 10-year lifecycle for its systems. Sony further introduced its new 80GB Core Pack, which is now available for $399, replacing the previous models.

The lineup for the second half of 2008 includes Resistance 2, sequel to the launch title Resistance: Fall of the Man, and Little Big Planet. Among the other first- and third-party titles that were highlighted at this year’s E3 press conference were 007 Quantum of Solace, SOCOM US Navy Seals Confrontation, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Soul Calibur IV, The Agency, Mirror’s Edge, SingStar, Motorstorm Pacific Rift and Killzone 2.

But clearly Sony sees that the PS3 is more than just another gaming machine. In addition to the impressive lineup of games, the company highlighted the role Sony hopes the PS3 will play in the living room and beyond. This includes the PlayStation Network, which allow a single sign-on for all games, along with a friends list so players can track what their friends are up to, see their accolades, and even join them in a virtual environment that is part of the PlayStation Home.

Beyond games, this will also be Sony’s living room delivery method for downloadable movies and TV series, with both rental and purchase options available via a broadband connection. The PSN is open for business with various content providers including Sony Pictures, MGM, Fox, Funimation Channel, Warner Brothers, Paramount and Lionsgate. Rentals will range from $2.95 to $5.95, while purchased content will range from $9.99 and $14.99; this video content will be offered in standard definition as well in high definition.

More importantly, Sony is promising that these downloads will be able to be taken on the go as well, via integration with the Sony PlayStation Portable. The company announced that content could be transferred to the PSP via a direct connection to either the PS3 or a PC. The service is available now, with new titles and content arriving each week.

The PSP is the second part of Sony’s triple play of game content. This fall a new PSP Size Matters Bundle will be released for $199, and will include a silver slim handheld model, a copy of the movie “National Treasure 2” on a universal media disc (UMD) along with a copy of the game Ratchet & Clank Size Matters.

On the game front, upcoming PSP titles for the rest of 2008 and early 2009 include Resistance, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Madden 09, Loco Roco 2, NBA 09: The Inside, Super Stardust Portable, LEGO Batman: The Videogame, Patapon 2, Buzz Quiz Master and Valkyria Chronicles.

The third part of Sony’s master plan was focused on the PlayStation2, which still remains a strong seller at retail. As part of the 10-year life cycle, the PS2 still has at least two more years of life left, and Sony has promised a strong line up of games that include SingStar Pop Vol. 2, Yakuza 2, Madden XX, and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, along with a new price of $129. A special edition of the system, a Lego Batman Bundle with animated Justice League New Frontier DVD, and a Lego Batman game will swing into action this fall for $149.