April 5, 2011 at 11:49 AM ET
The earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last month has led to disruptions in the production of Sony's new handheld gaming device called the Next Generation Portable (or NGP for short).
Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg, Jack Tretton, president of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, said the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11 has forced Sony to shut down several factories in the northern part of the country for repair. Meanwhile, a lack of parts from component suppliers is delaying production at other locations not directly affected by the disaster.
Because of this, the NGP may be introduced in a single region at the end of the year rather than launching in multiple regions, Tretton told Bloomberg. However, he did not say which region would get the device first.
"It may be the straw that says 'maybe we get to just one market by the end of the year,'" he said, adding that the delay could give developers more time to complete their games.
After months of intense speculation, Sony unveiled the NGP in January. It is the follow-up to Sony's handheld gaming device known as the PlayStation Portable.
Sony has said the sleek, powerful gaming gadget will offer 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, a 5-inch OLED touch-screen with four times the resolution of the current PSP screen, a touch pad on the back of the device as well as two analog sticks for in-depth game control. (See In-Game editor Todd Kenreck's video preview below.)
In recent years, sales of Sony's PSP have been sluggish compared to sales of its main competition – the Nintendo's DS game machine. And news of Sony's potential NGP delay comes as Nintendo has just launched its brand new 3-D gaming handheld, the Nintendo 3DS.
Though Nintendo has not yet revealed specific numbers, the company has said the 3DS — which lets users play games in 3-D without having to wear special glasses — raked in the highest one-day U.S. sales numbers of any of their handheld gadgets in the company's history.
With Japan being a center of the video game industry, the earthquake and related tsunami have impacted many in the games business with publishers not only delaying game launches due to interruptions in the work flow but also cancelling some disaster-themed games out of respect to the victims. Video game companies and enthusiasts have responded with major fundraising campaigns to help the victims.
But in somewhat better news for Sony, their other new handheld gaming product – the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play gaming smartphone – began rolling out in European markets this week and is still scheduled to arrive on the Verizon Wireless network in the U.S. "this spring."
The Xperia Play is the first "PlayStation Certified" smart phone and it comes with a 4-inch multi-touch screen as well as a slide-out game pad that includes a digital D-pad, two analog touch pads, two shoulder buttons and the four PlayStation buttons for gaming.
Sony Ericsson has announced that 60 games will be available for the device in the first week. The launch line-up will include a mix of PlayStation original games like "Syphon Filter" and "Crash Bandicoot" as well as games like "Assassins Creed Altair’s Chronicles HD," "Need for Speed," "Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell," "Gun Bros." and "N.O.V.A. 2."
So far, European publications have been giving the device mixed to poor reviews. IGN UK says, "Anyone who's waited for a PlayStation Phone will find it hard to fall in love with the Xperia Play." Meanwhile, Engadget praises the device's gamepad and sliding mechanism but ultimately declares, "the poor quality of the screen and good, but not great, hardware spec force us to be reluctant about recommending it as a sage purchase at present."
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