Sony gave ailing high street retailers a boost last week with the announcement that the next generation of its PlayStation console will be shipped to European shops at the end of October, just a month before the critical Christmas period.
The news that PlayStation 2, which will have a simultaneous release in the US and Europe on 26 October, will be in the UK before the end of the year, immediately boosted the prospects of several games retailers, including Electronics Boutique (EB), which has been struggling recently.
During the past few months EB has been forced to issue several profit warnings as the high street price war intensified (CRN, 10 May). However, following the announcement by Sony at the E3 games showcase in Los Angeles, analysts predicted that EB will report at least £15m profit for the year instead of the previously suggested £7.5m.
Speaking at E3, Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said: "The PlayStation 2 is not the future of video game entertainment, it is the future of entertainment, period."
Hirai also claimed that at least 50 games would be ready for the console by the end of 2000 and he predicted that three million units would be sold in Europe by the end of March 2001.
PlayStation 2, which made its debut in Japan in March (CRN, 8 March), plays DVD movies and can connect to the Internet.
The US and European version will also feature a modified console capable of adding broadband and the ability to turn the console into a PC by adding a keyboard and hard disk drive.
The console is expected to retail in the US for $299 and although European prices have not been revealed, it is expected to cost about £299 in the UK.
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