Sony showed off its new PlayStation Vita handheld games device at a flashy Los Angeles event on Monday, in a bid to move on from the hacking attacks that forced the company to shut down its videogames network for almost a month.
The new PlayStation Vita will go on sale for $249, or $299 for a 3G mobile version, starting in the holiday season, the Japanese electronics giant's No. 2 executive Kazuo Hirai told reporters on the eve of the E3 games convention.
But he drew some groans from the thousands strong audience in a sports arena when he said Sony would work with AT&T as exclusive carrier for the Vita. Many users of Apple's iPhone in the United States have complained that AT&T provided poor connectivity.
The upbeat presentation was a far cry from Hirai's last public appearance, a May 1 news conference in Tokyo at which he bowed deeply and repeatedly to show the company's contrition after data on tens of millions of user accounts was stolen by hackers.
The company just managed to restore the PlayStation Network in full in its main North American and European markets ahead of E3, which runs from June 7-9.
Jack Tretton, the head of the company's U.S. videogames division, told reporters activity on the network was back up to 90 percent of what it had been before the security breach and that last week's PlayStation sales were up 27 percent on last year.
Restoring services quickly was seen as essential because connectivity is one of the main selling points of the Vita.
For serious gamers, the ability to take up games where they left off, even while they are away from home, could be a key differentiation point from main rival Microsoft, which does not offer a portable device.
The global games market is expected to grow to $65 billion this year, up from $62.7 billion in 2010.
(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds and Liana Baker; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)