Sony has launched the Playstation 4 in Australia, igniting an intense contest with Microsoft’s Xbox One in the lead-up to Christmas.
The local launch comes two weeks after the console was released to North Americans – who snapped up more than one million consoles in the first day – and one week after the local launch of the Xbox One.
The Playstation 4 is priced at $549 and the Xbox at $599.
Both consoles boast upgrades providing richer graphics and more immersive gameplay than their predecessors, and both are looking to capture a broader market than gamers alone.
With web surfing and TV, movie, and music streaming, Microsoft and Sony are positioning the consoles as broader entertainment devices for the internet-era.
Sony, which has always tended to attract harder-core gamers, says the console remains primarily a gaming device.
“We’ve built the system with gamers in mind,” says the Australian chief of Sony’s computer entertainment arm, Michael Ephraim.
In the mobile era, characterised by social media and the hyper-popularity of casual games such as Angry Birds, this means linking the console with smartphones and tablets.
Bespoke smartphone apps, for example, allow users to download games to their console remotely. A spectator mode allows users to watch their friends playing via a mobile.
The console constantly records the last 15 minutes of play, allowing users to share videos of their accomplishments on social media.
“It’s still about gaming, but its about gaming in the world where people are sharing content and using multiple devices,” Ephraim says.
As for mobile games, Ephraim says they present more an opportunity than a threat – a “training ground” for people who would not otherwise be interested in gaming.
Foad Fadaghi, a senior analyst with technology consultancy Telsyte, says he expects demand to be high.
One in five of 1000 people surveyed by the company in the first week of November said they were keen to buy one of the consoles in the next six months.