Sony pushing new PlayStation hardware this holiday season

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Sony’s PlayStation brand has a new console being released this fall, and the company is betting the redesigned PlayStation 3 will be a popular item for the lucrative holiday gift-buying season.

At the annual media preview event in Toronto yesterday (October 3), PlayStation Canada marketing director Matt Levitan told the Straight that the Sony is taking a different approach this year. “Increasingly, as a whole, studios are staying away from releasing during the holiday season,” he said in an interview at the Palais Royale along the lake-shore strip. That's to avoid competing against proven franchises, said Levitan, like this fall's Assassins' Creed and Call of Duty games that have PS3 versions.

Last year, Sony benefited from the sales of blockbuster title Uncharted 3, but this year Sony’s game publishing division is releasing only a trio of titles: Little Big Planet Karting (coming from Vancouver’s United Front Games on November 6), PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale (November 20), and the first title in the Wonderbooks series, Book of Spells (set in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe and slated for November 13).

Instead, PlayStation has partnered with outside publishers to package hardware with the next installments of popular franchises. Assassin’s Creed III (Ubisoft) is being bundled with a 500 GB hard drive version of the new PS3 and Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation (Ubisoft) is packaged with a new white PlayStation Vita handheld. Both bundles will be available on October 30 when the games are released.

The Assassin’s Creed III bundle is the only way consumers can get the new, slimmer PS3 with the 500 GB hard drive. It will retail in Canada for $299. The 250 GB hard drive model, priced at $269 in Canada, is being packaged with Uncharted 3: Game of the Year Edition and a voucher for digital download content for the upcoming Dust 514.

Levitan expects the former will be the more popular choice, given that $30 brings double the hard drive capacity. “We feel that people will want to upsize,” he said.

And despite not having an internally-developed game on the slate this fall, Levitan said he is satisfied with the pre-order numbers on PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. “It has a great chance at being a big holiday title,” he said, adding that the fighting game is unlike other titles in the same genre that appear on other systems.

Levitan wouldn’t comment on whether gamers can expect to see a PS4 from Sony next year, but reiterated the company is committed to supporting the PS3 going forward. “We feel that the console life cycle is 10 years,” he said. By planning on publishing games for the PS3 for a few more years, Sony is simply being responsible to customers who purchase existing consoles even when new, more powerful systems are on the horizon.

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