Sony PS4

TOKYO — In a keynote at the Tokyo Game Fair today, Sony game division chief Andrew House said the company plans to move five million PlayStation 4 consoles by March 31, 2014, the end of Sony’s fiscal year. This ambitious target compares with the year it took PlayStation 3 to reach that milestone following its 2006 bow.

Set for launch in the US on November 15, the PS4 will be priced at $399, while the latest iteration of archrival Microsoft’s console, Xbox One, will hit the shelves about a week later at $499. Also, PS4 players will have a selection of 20 games from Day One, with many more in the pipeline. House also stressed that the PS4 is more than just a game console; users will also be able to download music and videos.

The PS4 will not be released in its home market, Japan, until February 22 of next year, since the company wants to avoid supply bottlenecks that frustrated consumers and slowed sales of the PS3.

Although Sony eked out a profit for FY2012, it is still desperately in need of hit products to offset losses from its long-ailing television business. President Kazuo Hirai, once head of the game division himself, sees PS4 as one of those products.

In a related development, Hiroshi Yamauchi, the long-time president of Nintendo, who built the Kyoto-based company from a playing card maker to a video game giant, died on Thursday at age 85 of pneumonia.

Heading Nintendo from 1949 to 2002, Yamauchi oversaw the release of the smash-hit “famicon” (“family computer”) console and the Game Boy portable, as well as such iconic game series as Super Mario, Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda that entranced early generations of video gamers.

In recent years, however, Nintendo has struggled to keep up with the new developments in the game biz, such as the surging popularity of gaming on smartphones and other portable devices, while losing sales ground to rivals Sony and Microsoft.

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