Sony Corp. said Monday that PlayStation 3 game machine sales totaled 1.2 million in North America during the key holiday season, boosting the strength of the company's Blu-ray video format because the PlayStation 3 also works as a Blu-ray player.
PS3 sales are closely watched because competition is intense among the video game consoles — pitting Sony against Nintendo Co., maker of the Wii, and Microsoft Corp., maker of Xbox 360.
Competition is also fierce between the video formats Blu-ray and HD DVD, which was developed by Toshiba Corp. Although both deliver better image quality than the DVDs more common today, one is expected to emerge the winner.
Sony Computer Entertainment, the Japanese electronics and entertainment company's game unit, said 1.4 million PlayStation Portables sold in North America between Nov. 23 and Dec. 31, the holiday shopping period. Including sales of 1.3 million for PlayStation 2, PS3's predecessor, retail sales of the three PlayStation machines reached more than 3.9 million in North America in the period, Tokyo-based Sony said.
The Wii, which went on sale about the same time as the PS3 in 2006, has attracted newcomers to gaming with easy-to-play games that use a motion sensor and a wandlike remote. And it has seen high demand ever since its release.
Nintendo officials in Kyoto, Japan, were attending a New Year's ceremony and weren't immediately available for comment on recent sales of the Wii.
Attracting movie studios to the winning format for DVDs will be critical to helping that format spread.
The HD DVD movie format took a potentially fatal blow Friday with Warner Bros. Entertainment's announcement that it soon will releases movies only in Blu-ray.
Only two major U.S. studios now favor HD DVD — Viacom's Paramount Pictures, which also owns DreamWorks SKG, and Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric.
If Blu-ray wins out, Sony can expect from more sales of Blu-ray recorders and high-definition flat-panel TVs, as well as PlayStation 3.
"The strong PS3 sales ... establish Blu-ray's dominant position as the high-definition medium of choice for games and movies," Jack Tretton, president and chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said in a statement.