TOKYO – Sony Corp. (SNE) said on Tuesday its new video game console, the PlayStation 3, does not run about 200 PlayStation and PlayStation 2 software titles properly, the latest problem the electronics maker has run into in its cash-cow game business.
The PS3, which Sony calls its most important strategic product of the year, went on sale in Japan on Saturday, setting the stage for a three-way showdown with Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) already available Xbox 360 and Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s Wii.
Sony said audio features do not work on some software titles when played on the PS3, which is supposed to be compatible with games designed for its previous models, while some other titles do not work on the latest machine at all.
Shares in Sony closed up 0.9 percent at 4,730 yen, underperforming a 1.64 percent gain in the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index IELEC, but in line with Nintendo stock.
Industry specialists say the glitches appear to be the kind of hiccups that often plague console launches and are not likely to have a lasting impact on the PS3 business.
"There are always sorts of little problems at launch ... It may take some time to make everything compatible, but I don't think it's a huge problem," KBC Securities analyst Hiroshi Kamide said.
Indeed, Microsoft received customer complaints following its Xbox launch in Japan in 2002 that the console was scratching game discs, while Sony's PS2, which it released in 2000, had compatibility problems with PS games.
Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), Sony's game unit, plans to fix the PS3 problems by offering online upgrades for system software, SCE spokesman Satoshi Fukuoka said.
Sony sold 88,400 units of the PS3 in the first two days of the Japan launch, clearing out most stores' stock, video game magazine publisher Enterbrain said on Monday.
The PS3 will be launched in North America on Friday. Gamers in Europe must wait until March due to a glitch in commercial production of blue laser diodes, a key component of the game gear's Blu-ray high-definition DVD player.
The Tokyo-based electronics and entertainment conglomerate aims to ship 6 million units of the PS3 by March.
The original PS and PS2 have each sold more than 100 million units.
Sony, which has dominated the game market over the past decade, has packed the PS3 with its latest technology, including a Blu-ray player and the Cell microchip, dubbed a "supercomputer on a chip."
But the new machine's lifelike graphics and fast downloading of game software and video clips come at a price.
Sony sells a basic model for 49,980 yen ($424.9) in Japan, almost double the price of the Wii, which will be released in the United States on Sunday and December 2 in Japan.