Playstation strain

Glitch in new platform zaps Sony's stock

Sony’s stockprice boost after the release of PlayStation 2 lasted exactly three days.

Since the discovery of a glitch in the console’s memory card that can lead to the deletion of software needed to operate the DVD portion of the machine, the company’s stock price has fallen by more than 10%.

On March 6, the first trading day after the PlayStation 2 was released in Japan, shares of Sony on the New York Stock Exchange closed at $271.87. By Thursday, when word about the glitch began to spread, the price was at $259.06. On Friday, it fell to $243.75.

Officials with Sony Computer Entertainment America did not return calls on the problem with the memory card.

“According to our investigation up to now, we assume the problem was caused by faults in some memory cards, not faults in any specific software for the PlayStation 2,” the company said in a statement.

Internet message boards dedicated to the PlayStation 2 were abuzz about the problem. Some users said they experienced problems after playing “Ridge Racer V,” by Japanese game company Namco. The memory card allows players to save games in progress.

As of last week, there was no recall planned of the PlayStation 2 machines or of the memory cards that are believed to be the root of the problem, according to Sony.

Technical treatment

The company said it had received 340 complaints from customers by Thursday relating to problems with the memory card. The company said consumers who believe that they have a glitch with the memory card can return the console for “investigation and repair.” Sony did not release figures as to how much these repairs might cost.

In the first three days after the machine went on sale exclusively in Japan, the PlayStation 2 sold 980,000 units at about $370 each, a record number of sales for a videogame system. Sony expects a total of 1.4 million units to be sold by the end of March.

Sony’s bottom line depends heavily on the popularity of the PlayStation systems. For the third quarter ended Dec. 31, Sony’s net profit fell by 16.6% to $884 million. The drop was attributed in part to a 23.5% slowdown in sales of the original PlayStation as consumers held off buying the game system because of the impending arrival of the next-generation console.

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