By Steve Lawson
YOU have to wonder what they are thinking.
Sony have already been criticised for holding back the European launch of the PlayStation 3 until March 2007, while the Americans and Japanese get it next month.
Now, the company have won a legal case against Hong Kong online retailer Lik-Sang, over ‘grey’ imports of the PSP into the UK.
And Sony have made it clear they’ll take similar steps to stop grey imports of the PS3. Sony warn that non-EU and non-UK PS3s won’t conform to safety standards.
Also, old titles and new PS3 games bought here won’t play on imported PS3 Blu-Ray drives.
Nevertheless, their handling of the PS3 launch is like the PSP debacle.
Many gamers bought the handheld from the Far East or America because it didn’t seem fair to have to wait until everyone else had got it before it went on sale here.
Sony wasn’t happy at this, hence the case against Lik-Sang which concluded this month and, claim Lik-Sang, has forced them out of business.
PSP availability is no longer an issue but the precedent-setting PSP ruling bodes ill for any UK retailers planning to offer imported PS3s prior to launch.
There’s no doubt demand will be huge and, if this delayed launch is a marketing ploy, it’s crude and unfair.
It’s not like Sony need any more bad press, what with millions of their laptop batteries being recalled over safety fears.
The PSP’s UMD (Universal Media Disc) format hasn’t taken off as expected, with many high street stores no longer stocking UMD movies.
Adding to Sony’s problems is the fact that Microsoft will have a second ‘free run’ at Christmas for their Xbox 360, which now has both a strong back catalogue and a wide fan base.
Further, Nintendo are riding high: Their handheld DS Lite is making serious inroads into PSP sales and their innovative new console, the Wii, launches before Christmas.
What’s more, although prices have yet to be confirmed, it looks like you’ll be able to buy a 360 AND a Wii for the price of a PS3.
I asked Sony for a comment on the points raised here but, at the time of going to press, they hadn’t got back to me.
The PS3 will undoubtedly be a superb machine – early reports say its graphics are stunning