PlayStation 3 may be upstaged by PS2

Sony revamping sales estimates as it prepares for hot new game debut.

By Chris Morris, staff writer

SAN FRANCISCO ( -- While media and gamer attention might be focused on the PlayStation 3, Sony (for now) has higher hopes for the nearly seven year old PlayStation 2 video game system.

Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, told the company has raised its sales projections for the older console this year. He stopped short of giving specific revised target numbers. The company previously had forecast shipping 13 million PS2s this year.

The enthusiasm for the PS2 comes as Sony prepares to launch "God of War 2," the sequel to one of the system's most popular titles. Early reviews for the game make it the PS2's best-ranked title.

"The PS2 is currently over 115 million units worldwide and there are still some incredible software experiences for it," said Harrison. "There's still a lot of life left in the system."

While it's no longer as sexy as it used to be in consumer eyes, the PS2 is a profit machine for Sony (Charts). The system, which still sells for $129 in the U.S. and €149 in Europe, is not sold at a loss (unlike the PS3, on which Sony reportedly loses more than $200 per unit). Additionally, since "God of War 2" was developed in-house, the company will pocket a larger percentage of each game sale.

While the PS3, the Xbox 360 from Microsoft (Charts) and Nintendo's Wii got the most media attention during the 2006 holiday season, the PS2 proved to be the best-selling home console, perhaps because of its lower price, perhaps because of widespread availability.

While it wasn't too hard to find an Xbox 360, the PS3 and Wii were scarce. Harrison said that while the supply situation is slightly better, he doesn't expect widespread availability for some time.

"I don't think it will be a stable situation for a while now," he said.

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Harrison was more upbeat on the potential of microtransactions, particularly on the company's recently announced "PlayStation Home" feature. In the 3D virtual community, players will be represented by fully customizable avatars. Dressing those characters in new clothes or furnishing their private 'apartments' with new features will require players to purchase the items.

"It's very important for the future of this industry that we embrace new [economic] models," he said. "The business model for micro-transactions is well established in other parts of the world. ... Not only will it be a significant revenue source [for Home], in some cases [with other games] it will be the only revenue source."

Prices for items in home have not yet been announced, but Harrison said they would likely vary "from a few cents to a few dollars and everything in between."


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