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Sony seeks maximum exposure for PS4

Dubai: It’s time for UAE’s eager gamers to start flexing their fingers. Sony Computer Entertainment has confirmed a December 13 launch date for its hugely anticipated PlayStation 4 (PS4) in the Gulf and South Africa and just weeks after its global release in the US on November 15. In fact, the Gulf launch pre-empts the one in Japan, set for February.

A standalone PS4 console will be priced at Dh1,699 as against the Dh2,500 for the PS3. (The PS3, released in 2006, will continue to be available even after the new version hits the stores.) More than 30 titles are being rolled out in sync with the PS4 availability.

Coming in at a lower price point compared with the PS3 is part of a concerted gameplan by Sony to pull in optimum volumes right from the outset and, at the same time, fight it out with Microsoft’s new XBox One (which, according to local retail sources should be available in the UAE in the second quarter of 2014.

The Microsoft gaming machine has already been released in 11 markets and met with an equally enthusiastic response, going past the 1 million unit mark.)

“As soon as we got a confirmed date on GCC launch, it was our intention to ensure that enough stocks would be made available and at levels we, and our distributor network, would be comfortable with,” said Robert Fisser, general manager of Sony Computer Entertainment in Middle East, Africa, Turkey and India. “With the PS3, these markets had to wait five months before it was released and that kind of time lag was something we wanted to avoid at all costs. Also, it had a high price and the price point was something we wanted to get absolutely right for the PS4.”

Once the launch date was confirmed, a pre-order campaign was launched through Sony distributors to rope in a sizeable number of early buyers. But this had to be stopped after getting “overwhelmed” by the initial bookings. (To put matters in perspective, Sony sold 1 million PS4 consoles in the first 24 hours of the launch in the US and Canada.)

“The build-up to the launch has been phenomenal – we have not seen anything like this before,” said Nadeem Khanzadah, head – retail, Jumbo Electronics, a Sony distributor. “Jumbo has been taking pre-orders and we would have easily crossed 5,000 pre-orders had we continued. Currently, we have capped at over 1,000 pre-orders in two months and are expecting the demand post-launch to be just as enthusiastic.”

Sony is also looking to win points by having the regional launch ahead of Microsoft’s XBox One. “We can’t disclose sales figures but Sony has traditionally had a larger share [of the gaming market] in this region,” said Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky’s Group. “We did see Microsoft make a comeback after they released the Kinect sensor a few years ago.

“Nintendo had done well a few years ago with the Wii console but that has largely fallen out of favour with most gamers. With the official launch of the Sony PlayStation 4 happening in time for the key festive period and Dubai Shopping Festival, we anticipate this will lead the market once again…Microsoft has only themselves to blame for delaying the official release of Xbox One in this region.

“Microsoft hasn’t yet set a release date for the region for the Xbox One but we anticipate this will be in Q2-2014 at the earliest.”