INTERVIEW - Sony exec says PS3 sales target on track

NEW YORK Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:38am IST

A boy plays Sony's playstation 3 at an electronic store in Tokyo October 30, 2009. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files

A boy plays Sony's playstation 3 at an electronic store in Tokyo October 30, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon/Files

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sales of PlayStation 3 game consoles are on track to meet fiscal year targets, but consumers haven't been as warm to PSP Go, Sony Corp's latest handheld device, a top executive said on Wednesday.

Bolstered by solid demand for the PS3 during the holiday season and the first few weeks of 2010, Sony expects to achieve its goal of 13 million units by the end of its fiscal year in March, Jack Tretton, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said in an interview.

"Based on the numbers 10 months in, I would say that we are extremely confident in those numbers," he said. "We have got very aggressive build plans for 2010 as well, so I think (this year) we will have very positive comparisons against 2009."

Last month, Japan's Sony said sold it 6.5 million units of its flagship PS3 in the three months ended on Dec. 31, up from 4.5 million units in the same period a year earlier.

That strong showing, aided by a long awaited price cut for the video game console, helped Sony recover some momentum in what was a rough year for the industry overall. Video game industry sales in the United States -- the largest market -- fell 8 percent in 2009 to $19.7 billion, as casual fans who had fueled the industry's growth dialed back spending.

Popular video games could help the industry rebound this year, and new features such as motion-controlled games could spark sales of hardware as well.

Tretten noted however that sales of the PSP Go, a wireless version of the PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld device, have so far not met expectations.

"It is a little short of where we'd like to be," he said of the $250 device, which competes with Nintendo Co Ltd's top-selling DS handheld game machine. "But it is certainly not a disappointment."

He said software piracy may have played a part in the slower-than-expected emergence of the PSP Go, which went on sale in October in North America and Europe, and in Japan in November.

"Piracy had an affect -- not necessarily in terms of an impact on consumer demand for hardware, but developers' ability to be profitable making games for it if people are not paying for the software," he said. "That's been a big challenge for every company, but we certainly felt it on PSP."

Sony had originally expected to sell 15 million units of the PSP -- including PSP Go and the larger PSP 3000 model -- but earlier this month, the company slashed the annual sales target by a third.

Share of Sony trading on the New York Stock Exchange slipped 20 cents to $34.41 on Wednesday afternoon.

(Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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