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Sony: PlayStation Brand Has A Bright Future

During its press conference at Gamescom in Germany, Sony said the PlayStation brand has a bright future, and debuted new initiatives including PSP Minis, a slimmed-down PS3, the latest hardware stats, and upcoming software updates.
With Sony's PlayStation 3 playing the caboose in the console hardware sales race, many have lost at least some faith that the once dominant brand could hold its own against an immensely popular mass market-centric Nintendo Wii and Microsoft's strongly-supported Xbox 360. But at the GamesCom convention in Cologne, Germany on Tuesday, Andrew House, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, tried to assure onlookers that the PlayStation brand has a very bright future. According to an official SCEE liveblog of the event, House said sales of PSP have grown to 52.9 million units worldwide, up from the 50 million units shipped announced in February this year. The handheld, which is due for an update in October with the revised PSP Go hardware, has sold 17 million in SCEE territories, House said. Along with the launch of the PSP, Sony also announced PSP Minis, smaller, lower-priced games that are limited to a 100MB download size. The move puts the PSP in closer relation, game content-wise, with Apple's iPhone and iPod Touch. Sony sniped popular games from Apple's App Store, including Fieldrunners and Hero of Sparta. Announced earlier this year, the PSP Go is priced at $250 and will have no UMD drive, reflecting the hardware's focus on digital distribution. On the home console front, House confirmed that Sony has sold 23.7 million PS3s worldwide, with 10 million hardware units sold in SCEE territories. Today, Sony confirmed a slimmer, cheaper version of the PS3, which will sport a 120GB hard drive. The console will sell for $299 beginning the first week of September. Meanwhile, current 80GB PS3 hardware will sell for $299 to clear out stock. Connecting Sony's hardware is PlayStation Network, which House said boasts 27 million users worldwide, 11 million of which are in SCEE territories. There have been 560 million downloads from PSN to date worldwide, he said. Reflecting a Sony-hosted session during GDC Europe this week, House expressed Sony's confidence in its PlayStation Home virtual world, to which the company will continuously add content. He said a space for Sony's SingStar karaoke game is on the way, and it will have features including a video jukebox and interactive dance floor. Car maker Audi is also adding a space later this year, showing how Home can also be a place to market non-gaming products to gamers. A Home update is due in September, House added. The exec also announced firmware update 3.0 for PS3, which will allow for animated themes, "a 'What's New'" section, and other interface changes. Sony will also introduce pre-paid PSN cards in September. House showed €20 and €50 versions of the cards. As for other forms of digital entertainment, Sony said it will be expanding its VidZone on-demand video service across more European territories later this year. Sony also introduced Digital Comics for the upcoming PSP Digital Reader, due in December. Offerings will include major comics such as those from Marvel, as well as indie comics.

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