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Sony Stresses Games, Price Cuts At E3

Santa Monica, Calif. — Nintendo might be the comeback kid in video games, but Sony Computer Entertainment’s (SCE) presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) emphasized that they aren’t out of the game yet.

The big news of the week was broken before the show when Sony announced a new 80GB version of the PlayStation3, which would be packaged with the popular Motor Storm racing simulation, would be released for $599, while the 60GB version of the system has dropped in price by $100 to $499.

Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment America, stressed that Sony has clear objectives this fiscal year.

“We have two basic goals,” said Tretton. “The first is to broaden the install the base, and the second is to deliver content that offers something for everyone.”

Since the price reduction was announced Tretton said  sales have doubled at the top fivePS3 retailers and as with Microsoft’s press conference for the Xbox 360 the night before, Sony is clearly focusing on software titles this year, announcing that 200 Blu-ray Disc games would be released worldwide by the end of the fiscal year. More than 120 of these would be for North America.

Among the titles include Haze; Unreal Tournament III; Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare; Assassin’s Creed; Kane & Lynch: Dead Men; Resident Evil 5; Burnout Paradise; Madden NFL 08; Ratchet & Clank: Future Tools of Destruction; Folklore; Heavenly Sword; NBA 08; BigLittlePlanet; Grand Turismo 5 Prologue; Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune; and Infamous.

In addition to support for the PS3, Sony also confirmed their continued commitment to their still popular PlayStation2 system, which is currently seven years into its life cycle. Sony announced that it plans to ship another 10 million units this year, and that more than 160 new games will be released the system in North America by the end of the fiscal year.

Sony’s big hardware news takes a cue from Nintendo, as Sony will release a slimmed-down version of their handheld gaming system PlayStation Portable, or PSP. Kaz Hirai, CEO of SCE, took the stage to show off the new PSP, which was called the evolution of the system. It will be available in September and will be 19 percent slimmer and 33 percent lighter, while offering a more efficient battery and more importantly the ability to output high-quality video, pictures and games on a connected TV set.

The new PSP-2000  will be available in stores in September in Japan, North America and Europe in three colors: piano black, ceramic white and ice silver.

The PSP continues to offer music playback in MP3 and Sony’s protected-ATRAC3 family from Memory Stick PRO Duo memory cards, movie and game playback from Universal Media Disc (UMD) discs, and picture playback from Memory Stick.

A basic package with AC adapter, battery pack, and piano-black PSP-2000 will retail for a suggested $169. Two other packages at a suggested $199 include a limited-edition Daxter PSP Entertainment Pack with ice silver PSP in September with Daxter game, “Family Guy” episodes on UMD and a 1GB Memory Stick PRO Duo card. On Oct. 9, stores will offer the collector’s edition Star Wars Battlefront PSP Entertainment Pack with ceramic white PSP, Darth Vader silk-screen on the chassis and unit, and a PSP exclusive title, Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron.

The new PSP is 33 percent lighter at around 6.7 ounces, including battery pack and 19 percent slimmer at 0.75 inches in thickness. It continues to offer 64MB of main memory, built-in stereo speakers, IEEE 802.11b Wi-Fi and Web browsing.

Billed by Sony as PSP as “the first integrated handheld entertainment system designed to handle multiple applications,” the PSP is capable of playing any of almost 250 games titles; downloadable content from the Internet; and more than 450 feature films, TV programs and videos from major studios and record labels.

More than 140 games will be released for PSP this fiscal year, including more than 20 third-party titles currently slated as exclusives, the company added.

Sony will also release two special game-related special edition models, one for the popular platform game Daxter and another that will be packaged with Star Wars BattleFront: Renegade Squadron. This model, which will feature a Darth Vader image on a white device, will arrive in October for $199.

Additional reporting by Joseph Palenchar