According to this news item at GamesIndustry.biz, Sony COO Ken Kutaragi held a press briefing on Tuesday to announce that they’ve finished the PlayStation Portable (PSP) in time to ship units this year as they had previously promised. Rumors around the industry had the release date of the PSP slipping into 2005, but Sony seems determined to have it out in time for the holidays though they were careful not to specify an exact date.
Additionally, Kutaragi spent some time trying to counter news items reporting that SCEE German Managing Director Manfred Gerdes had announced the PSP would sell for ¥33,000 in Japan (roughly $300 USD). He made it clear to reporters that no final decision on the price point had been made nor would it be until after the Tokyo Game Show.
“We won’t announce the price of the PSP today,” Kutaragi told the assembled hacks yesterday, adding that he hoped to announce it “after we hear the voices of our users, distributors, and developers at the Tokyo Game Show.” Sony plans to have 100 playable PSP units at the show and more than 20 playable games.
Yesterday’s Sony briefing also revealed a bunch of new games on the way from the likes of Atlus, Namco (Taiko no Tatsujin drum/music game), SNK (3D King of Fighters game), From Software (Tenchu) and Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s Q Entertainment (Lumines, a “sound and light action puzzle game” to be published by Bandai).
Kutaragi also said that plans for movies on UMD – the proprietary disc format the PSP will use – are now in the final stages, although there are currently no plans to let users record anything to UMD. Apparently it might happen “if the market starts to get stabilised and things are going well,” but if it does it will come after a period of consultation with companies about recording formats, copy protection, standards and so on.
Nintendo has put the pressure on by announcing that the DS will sell for $149 and the PSP would have to be pretty damn incredible to sell well at double that price. So Sony is playing it smart in holding off on making a final decision until they’ve gotten some feedback from TGS. Depending on the buzz coming out of that show they should be in a good position to gage what price point will make the PSP a success.