Two of the video game industry's largest players announced product plans for the peak-selling holiday season yesterday. Sony said that it will ship a miniature version of its best-selling PlayStation 2 game console, and Nintendo revealed that its eagerly anticipated Nintendo DS handheld gaming unit will ship in North America on November 21. Both devices will cost about $150.
The new PlayStation 2 replaces existing models and won't, as rumored, be called the PStwo. Instead, the new PlayStation 2 visually resembles its larger predecessor but is only one-fourth the size. At an inch thick, it's just one-third the thickness of earlier models. The new PlayStation 2 also includes bundled Ethernet and modem ports, features that used to cost extra. Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Ken Kutaragi noted that PlayStation 2 sales are actually growing as we enter the holiday buying season. "The PlayStation has grown into a stable platform," he said.
On the portable front, the Nintendo DS features a unique clamshell design with two screens, one of which is a touch screen (the DS stands for dual screen, the company says). More than 100 companies have signed on to create Nintendo DS titles, the company reports, and Nintendo itself will create 20 of the first titles to be released. Also, the Nintendo DS is backward-compatible with games that are designed for Nintendo's popular GameBoy products.
Like Nintendo, Sony has plans for a next-generation handheld console, but the PlayStation Portable (PSP) won't ship until first quarter next year, giving Nintendo a head start. Although Sony hasn't yet announced pricing for the PSP, it will almost certainly cost more than the $150 that Nintendo plans to charge for the DS. Sony attributes the price difference to the PSP's more advanced specifications, noting that the Nintendo DS and PSP will likely "have different roles in the market."