Sony Corp. (SNE) may fall behind rivals in the initial phase of the next-generation game console race, but is likely to grab the top spot eventually, Japan's top video game magazine publisher, Enterbrain, said on Friday.

Sony and Nintendo Co. Ltd. will in November start rolling out their latest game gear, the PlayStation 3 and Wii, setting a stage for a three-way showdown with Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) already available Xbox 360.

"The PS3 will have a tough time globally at the initial stage. Its launch titles in Japan and exclusive software titles overseas are quite limited," Enterbrain President Hirokazu Hamamura told a seminar.

"But its overwhelmingly realistic graphics will give it a long life span. It will stay competitive even when a game console battle breaks out among a newer generation of machines in 2010. Sales should grow every time Sony cuts prices," he said.

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Costs of manufacturing consoles come down as production yields improve, helping game makers cut prices to stoke fresh demand.

Enterbrain expects Sony to sell 4.13 million units of the PS3 worldwide in the current business year ending March 2007. Sony itself aims to ship 6 million units over the same period.

The publisher also expects Nintendo to sell 5.47 million units of the Wii by March, compared with Nintendo's own target to sell 6 million units.

Besides the lack of game titles at the start, PS3 sales will be hampered by its high price tag, Hamamura said.

Sony expects a model of the PS3 with a 20-gigabyte hard disk drive and a Blu-ray high-definition optical disc player to sell for $499 in the United States, about twice as much as the Wii price.

But in the longer term, Enterbrain expects the PS3 to outsell both the Wii and Xbox 360, helped by its lifelike graphics and a rich pool of potentially popular game software that will be released in 2007 or later.

Those software titles, many of which are sequels to existing games played on the blockbuster PlayStation 2, include "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots" from Konami Corp..

By the end of 2009, Enterbrain expects Sony's PS3 sales to total 34 million units, surpassing an estimated 25 million Wii sales and 28 million Xbox 360 sales.