Sony and Nintendo may enliven portable games

PlayStation Portable may kickstart market for everyone

The entry of Sony into the portable gaming market will help expand the sector to a wider range of users and help grow the market, an executive of Japan's Computer Entertainment Suppliers' Association said on Friday.

Just as Sony's entry into the console market with its PlayStation helped expand that area of gaming, the upcoming launch of the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and ensuing competition with Nintendo and its planned DS (Double Screen) portable player will be good for the industry, said Kazuya Watanabe, executive managing director of the CESA in an interview at the Tokyo Game Show. CESA is one of the show's organisers.

"Ten years ago it was just geeks that played computer games, but then came titles like Dance Dance Revolution and girls started playing. Now there are diet games [aimed at women] and even simulators for steam locomotives, which attract older users," said Watanabe. He expects the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS to do the same thing for the portable space, which is still largely the providence of teenage users of the Nintendo GameBoy.

Watanabe wouldn't be drawn on a prediction on the size of the market a year from now, but said he doubted it would grow so far as to double in size.

The portable game market saw hardware shipments of 4.0 million units in 2003 and was worth ¥38 billion, according to CESA. Software shipments totaled 16.6 million units and were worth ¥56.1 billion, the association said.

The new portable players are also unlikely to dent the popularity of cellular telephone games, Watanabe said. Cellular phones are too convenient for users to stop carrying around and therefore many users, faced with the choice of carrying one or two devices, will likely chose the phone, he said.

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