Sony Plans PlayStation Expansion

Sony is hoping to return its PlayStation business to profitability next year with the help of new hardware devices and expansion of its network-delivered services platform, it said Thursday.

Efforts to get the games business back on track will be focused on several areas including a reduction in costs for the PlayStation 3 console. Sony recently reduced the retail price of the console, and lowering manufacturing and distribution costs will be one of the keys to turning the PS3 into a big money-maker.

Sony also wants to grow its PlayStation Network platform, which already delivers game software to the PS3 and PlayStation Portable. Non-game content such as video is already taking its place alongside games in some countries and was expanded on Thursday to customers in the UK, France, Germany and Spain . Digital comics will join the line-up in Japan and the U.S. from December and a music video download service is planned for Japan.

In 2010 a non-game development kit for the PlayStation Network will be released to encourage content providers to develop for the platform.

To date the PlayStation Network has attracted 33 million users of which around 5.4 million sign-on each day. A little over a quarter of those visit the PlayStation Store, sales of which are predicted to triple this year to ¥50 billion (US$561 million).

The PlayStation 3, with its Blu-ray Disc player and high-definition output, is a key part of Sony's drive to push 3D content into the home next year and Sony said Thursday it will offer a firmware upgrade that will add 3D capability to all PlayStation 3 consoles.

New hardware will also play a part in Sony's plans.

Next year Sony plans to launch the Motion Controller, a handheld games controller than can sense and estimate movement and acceleration. The companion PlayStation Eye, a camera with image recognition capabilities, will be launched.

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