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Monday, September 9, 2013

Sony’s Next PlayStation Will Be Late to Japan

TOKYO â€" Japan has a reputation for getting the latest electronics gadgets before the rest of the world. But the Japanese will have to wait for the latest video game console from one of their own companies, Sony.

Sony said Monday that it would not sell the PlayStation 4 in Japan until Feb., 22, 2014, about three months after scheduled release dates in the United States and Europe, which are Nov. 15 and Nov. 29.

Andrew House, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment, said the main reason for the delay was a shortage of games aimed at Japanese players. Japanese game developers have been slower to adapt to the trend toward networked, multiplayer games than their counterparts elsewhere, he said in an interview Monday after Sony announced the release date at a news conference.

“It has been something of a learning curve for Japanese developers in getting up to speed with the networked style of play,” Mr. House said. “We need to make sure we have great games for Japanese consumers in place.”

Sony also wants to make sure that it does not repeat supply chain glitches that plagued the release of the PlayStation 3.

Mr. House said the company was not seeing any shortages this time around, even though it had already received more than 1 million pre-orders for the console. At the current pace, he said, Sony was on track to do better than the PlayStation 3; Sony says it sold about 3.5 million copies of that console in the first fiscal year in which it was available.

“I have every hope that this will be our largest launch for any holiday season console,” Mr. House said. “We are experiencing demand that, in my experience in the industry, we have never seen before.”

The PlayStation 4 is a vitally important component in the plans of the Sony chief executive, Kazuo Hirai, to turn around the performance of Sony’s electronics business. The console has received favorable early reviews from the gaming community thanks in part to a $399 price, $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One, which will also be released in the United States in time for the holidays.

Like Sony, Microsoft does not plan to release its new console in Japan until next year, easing some of the pressure on Sony in its home market. And Japan has been tough for the Xbox to crack, so Sony can probably count on doing well in in its domestic market anyway.

While Japanese consumers will have to wait for the new console, they can console themselves with the PlayStation Vita TV, a new version of Sony’s portable game system. Vita TV will give users access to more than 1,300 games, as well as a variety of online video services, via their television sets.

Vita TV will also act as a sort of set-top box for PS4 and televisions, so that the console can be used without physically connecting it to a TV.

With Vita TV, at least, Japan gets bragging rights; while Sony said it would begin selling the device here on Nov. 14, there was no word on international availability.