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Sony names US PSP launch date, price

Console continues to outsell Nintendo DS in Japan

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Sony has at last come clean and said when it will ship the PlayStation Portable in the North America. Yes, 24 March will be PSP Day.

There's still no official word on the European debut, but the day after, the 25th, has in the past been singled out for attention in documents sent by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe to local distributors and retailers. That said, company insiders appear to be anticipating a delay, possibly into April.

In the US, the PSP will retail for $250 - $100 more than the Nintendo DS, but then Sony is pitching the handheld as more than a games console, and ia targeting an older, more affluent customer-base.

The Sony price also includes a copy of Spiderman 2 on the PSP's Universal Media Disc (UMD) optical medium, along with a number of accessories, including earphones, remote control, carry case and a 32MB Memory Stick. This Value Pack may well be joined by a standalone PSP at a lower price point later in the year, though Sony's keeping quiet about its plans for the product.

The electronics giant says that 24 titles will be released in the two weeks following the launch, including FIFA 2005, Metal Gear Acid, Need for Speed Rivals and Twisted Metal: Head On.

Sony plans to ship 1m units into the US for the launch and to cover sales through to 31 March, the last day of its current fiscal year.

In Japan, where the PSP debuted on 12 December 2004, the Sony console continues to out-sell Nintendo's DS in the weekly sales charts. For the week ending 23 January, some 56,274 PSPs shipped, compared to 44,608 DS units.

The Nintendo machine still has the local lead for the year to date, shipping 206,696 units to the PSP's 180,028. Wth a lead of over 10,000 units a week, it shouldn't be too long before the PSP overtakes the DS. But with Nintendo's strong December 2004 sales, beating the DS' overall sales tally will take much longer. ®

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