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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 September 2006, 06:38 GMT 07:38 UK
PlayStation 3 tackles home crowd
By Jonathan Fildes
Technology reporter, BBC News website, in Tokyo


Sony PlayStation 3
The PlayStation 3 has been hit by delays to its launch
Electronics giant Sony could face its fiercest critics yet when it showcases the delayed PlayStation 3 (PS3) on home soil at the Tokyo Games Show (TGS).

The exhibition is the last major event in the gaming calendar before the PS3 goes on sale on 11 November.

The third incarnation of the popular games machine made its first TGS appearance last year.

Since then, Sony has delayed the launch, prompting a backlash from some parts of the gaming community.

Japan has been a loyal market of Sony, with nearly a quarter of the 100 million PlayStation 2 (PS2) consoles sold worldwide bought by Japanese gamers.

TGS will be the first time that gamers will be able to get their hands on the PS3 and a raft of playable titles.

Public show

TGS is the biggest dedicated gaming show in Japan, the second largest gaming market in the world after the US. It is now in its 10th year.

More than 140 companies are expected to attend the event in an attempt to grab a slice of an industry worth an annual $30bn globally.

E3

Until now, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles has taken pride of place in the gaming calendar, with the big three console manufacturers - Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft - jostling for the hearts, minds and wallets of gamers.

Since the announcement that E3 will be downsized next year, the TGS has become even more important as an industry showcase.

Along with Sony, Microsoft will be at TGS pushing its Xbox 360 system.

However, Nintendo traditionally forgo TGS in favour of their own events.

The three-day show officially kicks off on Friday with a closed, press-only day.

Unlike many game shows the doors are then thrown open to the public for the weekend.

Big push

Sony is keen to make a big splash at this year's event. The company needs to persuade gamers that the delayed console is worth the wait, and the high price tag.

The budget version of the console will sell for 59800 yen in Japan and 499 euros in Europe.

Xbox 360
The Xbox 360 hit shelves last November

The PS3 was scheduled to launch in spring this year but a technical hitch with the console's Blu-ray drive meant the firm was forced to delay the release.

European gamers suffered further disappointment in September this year when the company said that the 17 November European release date was being pushed back to 2007.

Japanese and US gamers will still get their hands on the console in November.

In a bid to showcase the cutting edge processing and graphical power of the PS3, Sony has announced 27 playable PS3 titles for the TGS, with a further 35 shown on video.

Playable titles include Devil May Cry 4, Resistance: Fall of Man and Ridge Racer 7.

Some games will be updates of titles demonstrated earlier this year at E3.

Games showcase

Microsoft will also be present at TGS. The firm's Xbox 360 went on sale around the world last November and has become an instant success.

Microsoft has said it plans to ship 10 million consoles before the PS3 or Nintendo's latest console, the Wii, hit the shops.

But Microsoft has traditionally had difficulty cracking the loyal Japanese gaming market.

Nintendo Wii
Nintendo traditionally shuns the Tokyo Games Show

When the 360 went on sale in the US and UK hardcore fans scrambled to get their hands on the console and it quickly sold out. But Japanese gamers were less enthusiastic. At the console's Tokyo launch one store official described customer reaction as "subdued."

Microsoft will have some of their top executives at TGS including Peter Moore, head of Microsoft's game business. They will push the 360 console to try to gain as much of a lead over Sony before November.

At a pre-TGS event in Tokyo, Microsoft said it would be releasing a HD-DVD player for the Xbox 360 on 17 November in Japan, priced 19,800 yen (89).

The high definition player is a rival to the Blu-ray player inside the PS3.

The US software firm is also hosting its own event, X06, in Barcelona later in September.

The event will showcase some of the next generation games for the 360 console.

Demos and announcements from both events will be made available to users of the Xbox live online gaming service.

Wii launch

The other large console maker, Nintendo has a strong fan base in the country but the Japanese manufacturer tends to hold its own events in place of TGS.

Last week, Nintendo announced launch dates and prices for its Wii console at a series of worldwide press conferences.

The company said that the console would be available before Christmas this year and that four million consoles would be available at launch.

More than 20 games would also be available including The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.

Games developers will be showing other Wii titles at TGS, giving gamers the chance to play with the console's innovative controller.

Games on show for the Wii include Marvelous Interactive's latest instalment of the Harvest Moon series.

The Tokyo Game Show will take place from 22 to 24 September at Makuhari Messe conference centre in Chiba near Tokyo.




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