Sony cuts prices ahead of crucial console launch

SONY has slashed the cost of its PS Vita handheld games console, suggesting poor sales of the device ahead of tomorrow’s crucial launch of the next PlayStation.

The company, which has previously cut sales forecasts for the Vita, said the device would now retail for up to a third less than before in Japan, Sony’s home market.

The move comes as chief executive Kazuo Hirai attempts to focus the company on gaming as sales of its digital cameras and TVs decline. However, both Sony and its rival Nintendo have seen sales of portable consoles hit by the popularity of cheap and free games on smart- phones and tablets.

The Vita, released in the UK around 12 months ago as Hirai took the reins at Sony, is expected to sell around 10m this financial year, lower than previously forecast, although a weak yen is expected to have boosted sales outside of Japan, where Vita prices are not yet being cut.

Sony will unveil its next home console, expected to be named the PlayStation 4, at an event in New York tomorrow. The console will be more powerful than its predecessor, and is expected to have a touch-sensitive controller as well as being able to stream games over the internet.

Crucially, the console is being unveiled before Microsoft’s new Xbox console, and is expected to be priced cheaper than the PlayStation 3 was when it went on sale in 2006.

The console has since seen sales of 70m, less than half that of its predeces- sor, the PlayStation 2, which remains the bestselling home console of all time.