Nintendo announced earlier this month that its new Wii U will be on sale in time for Christmas. Designed to combat increasingly stiff competition in the gaming world, Nintendo’s Wii U comes with two GamePad controllers, which are designed to look and feel like tablets, and it hosts its own version of a social network, the Miiverse.
But the Japanese technology giant is now facing competition from rival Sony, also based in Japan, which is launching a new console of its own.
Sony has revealed it will be selling a smaller, lighter version of its Playstation 3 as the firm also tries to win back consumers who are now gaming on mobile devices and tablets.
The new console will be on sale from September 28, so will beat the Wii U, which is due for a November release, to the shelves.
Expected to cost $249 for a 250GB model and $299 for a 500 GB device, the new Playstation will be on sale in the US slightly earlier, on September 25. No price has been announced for the UK, as Sony says it will be allowing retailers to set UK prices for the console.
The PlayStation Mobile service will also be launched, on October 3, which will allow users to download games on their smartphones and tablets.
The service will be available in nine countries, including the US, Canada, Australia, Japan and Germany, with smartphone makers including HTC, Asus and Fujitsu saying PlayStation Mobile will be available on their devices.
The PS3 is set for a double-pronged launch in the UK. On September 28, the 500GB hard drive version will be available and a, newly added, 12GB flash memory model will arrive on October 12.
Sony says that by “completely redesigning the internal design architecture,” the weight of the new PS3 has been reduced by more than half compared to its first PS3 model and by 25% compared to the current PS3.
The company says it has stuck with its design principles. “By adopting a sliding disk cover, the new PS3 continues with the characteristic sleek curved simple body design, which fits various places in the home and enables users to enjoy an array of entertainment content.”
Sony’s new chief executive Kazuo Hirai, who was appointed to the role in April, is making the games unit one of his key focus areas after he started reforming the unprofitable television operation by cutting 10,000 jobs.
Hirai was brought in to bring the Tokyo-based company back into the black following four straight annual losses, with competition from Apple and Samsung said to be one of Sony’s major problems.
Analyst Takashi Oka said Sony would be aiming to lure gamers with its new model following Ninendo’s Wii U launch. But he added: “Game-console markets have matured in developed nations and it may be hard to stimulate demand just by making it smaller.”
Originally launched in 2006, the PS3 underwent a redesign in 2009 and has so far sold some 66m units globally.