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Too few games could set back PSP launch - Sony exec

Signs of a delay, or just managing expectations?

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Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) will miss its Japanese shipment schedule if games developers don't get titles finished in time, a company executive confessed last week.

Interviewed by Japanese site PC Watch, Izumi Kawanishi, who runs Sony Computer Entertainment's network systems division, indicated that the end-of-the-year launch window depends on games publishers.

The comment follows concerns expressed by analysts that Sony has misjudged the device's development cycle. This past summer, American Technology Research analyst P J McNealy questioned Sony's ability to meet its deadline on the grounds that the company had, by early July, not yet sent out consoles on which to test new titles. On the basis of past console roll-outs, he suggested, that might not leave enough time to finish games before the year-end Japanese ship date.

The PSP is set to ship in the US and Europe by the end of March 2005, giving developers targeting these markets three more months to complete their offerings.

Of course, saying that the console might be delayed if games publishers have too few titles ready in time is not the same thing as saying that there aren't going to be sufficient games finished by the end of the year. Kawanishi's are not necessarily a sign that the PSP will be delayed.

However, it does suggest that Sony is changing tack, from bullishly stating it will meet its deadline, to managing expectations in case it doesn't. ®

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