Sony Corp will launch its motion-controlled gaming system on September 15, getting to market weeks ahead of a rival platform from Microsoft Corp as it makes the jump into one of the hottest trends in gaming.
Motion-based gaming is all the rage at this year's E3 in Los Angeles, the gaming industry's biggest trade show. It was popularized by Nintendo Co Ltd and its Wii home console, and is expected to help draw in millions of new gamers in coming years.
Sony said on Tuesday its Move system for the PlayStation 3 home console will go on sale September 15 in Europe, and days later in the United States. It is expected to be on shelves in Japan on Oct 21. The basic system, which features a wand that resembles an ice cream cone, will start at $50 for the controller and $40 for a camera.
Microsoft's Kinect motion-based platform -- which unlike the Move relies solely on voice, body and hand gestures -- for the Xbox 360 goes on sale November 4, the top software vendor said in a much-anticipated announcement at the E3 games convention on Monday.
Kaz Hirai, head of Sony Computer Entertainment and the company's networked products and services group, said the technology in Move's wand should allow the system to appeal more to hard-core gamers, who traditionally have less interest in motion-based games.
We want to make sure it gets used in as many games as possible in the future, he said in an interview with Reuters.
Sony said there will be 15 to 20 titles available for Move on the first day, and more than 40 available by the holidays.
Even as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo fight for primacy in motion-based games, Sony is also making a huge bet on 3D gaming.
The company said it is alone in offering an end-to-end 3D experience, from its televisions to specially designed content via its entertainment division.
Hirai said gamers are key to the demand equation for the company's new 3D-enabled TVs, which are being rolled out to consumers this year.
To a certain extent gaming is really going to drive the 3D TV adoption, he said.
The company will have more than 20 3D titles available for the PS3, which has a base of some 35 million units, by March of next year.
Hirai said Sony remains on track to turn its overall games business profitable this year. The PS3 console alone turned profitable last fiscal year.
Sony said its PlayStation Network has surpassed 50 million users. Sony uses the PSN to deliver movies and other content besides games and is key to its strategy to turn its console into the digital hub of the living room.
The company is launching a new PSN Plus subscription offering, charging $50 a year, which will offer more content than the free service.
Hirai declined to predict how quickly PSN would grow this year.
I'm not going to try to guess what the number looks like, but we've seen explosive growth in registered accounts and I think ... we're going to see a lot of people coming to PSN, he said.
(Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Richard Chang, Leslie Gevirtz)