LOS ANGELES — Sony’s press conference, hot on the heels of Nintendo’s and a long, smoggy cab ride away, is rolling.
Jack Tretton, top dog at Sony in the U.S., started with some history. Fifteen years ago this week, executives at Sony gave the green light to the original PlayStation. The company was ahead of the technology curve then, introducing gamers to CDs, Tretton said. It’s successor, PlayStation 2, was built with a 10-year plan in mind, and has now sold some 140 million units.
His message: Don’t count the PlayStation 3 out because Sony has consistently built its machines for a 10-year life cycle, with technology that’s ahead of the curve when it’s introduced. The Blu-ray high-def DVD player and powerful IBM Cell processors are exhibits a and b.
Since 1995, PlayStation has generated more than $50 billion at retail. Tretton noted that Sony is the only company with three console platforms in the market simultaneously: PlayStation 3, PS2 and the PSP portable unit.
Update, 12:17 p.m. Sony is relying on the $129 PS2 to help introduce it to the new mass-market audience that Nintendo has owned in this generation, and Microsoft is pursuing. Tretton announced a $149 PS2 “family pack” including “Lego Batman” and a “Justice League” movie.
He also emphasized the PS2’s strength as a platform for social gaming — that was another theme that Microsoft emphasized in its press conference yesterday.
Update, 12:32 p.m. As expected, Sony is challenging Xbox Live with a new video store. The Sony Playstation Network video store will offer standard- and high-definition television and movie. For starters, the store will carry content from seven studios including Sony, of course, Disney, Lionsgate, MGM, Warner Bros., Fox Film and Television, and Funimation. Content will be available for rental and purchase.
Content purchased from the store can transfered to PSP, so it can be taken to go.
Tretton said the video store will be available tonight.
Update, 12:51 p.m.: Sony just announced a new 80 gigabyte PlayStation 3, “with the same functionality” of the 40-gigabyte console. It will sell for $400, down $100 from the current 80-gig PS3, beginning in September.
“We have millions of PlayStation 2 users on the cusp of upgrading to PS3,” Tretton said. “We want to make that as easy as possible.”
Update, 5:10 p.m.: Corrected spelling of Sony Computer Entertainment America President and CEO Jack Tretton.