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Sony cancels many sports game sequels

Sony's U.S. video game unit won't update some of its sports titles this year, mirroring an earlier move by Microsoft.
/ Source: Reuters

The U.S. video game arm of Sony Corp. said Wednesday it would not update some of its sports titles this year, mirroring a similar move by Microsoft Corp. amid intense competition.

Sony Computer Entertainment of America said its 989 Sports label would not release the professional or collegiate versions of its football and basketball games for the 2004-2005 season.

The company's baseball, soccer and Olympics titles are unaffected, as is its hockey franchise, all of which have either been released or remain on track for release this year.

A spokesman said the company intends to bring the football and basketball games back in 2005, taking the interim time to work on game development and make the titles more competitive.

Sony's sports brands have largely struggled in recent years, gaining little market share in the face of repeated dominating performances by the sports line-up of industry leader Electronic Arts Inc.

The football and basketball games in particular have been forced to compete in crowded markets where EA's significant share has left little for other publishers to split.

On March 30, Microsoft said its XSN Sports label would not release its pro football, basketball or hockey titles this year, nor would it move ahead on new versions of its irregularly-scheduled golf, tennis or snowboarding games for the time being.

That move was seen by financial analysts as opening the door to closer ties between Microsoft and EA, which in the most recent "season" of sports games supported online play on Sony's PlayStation 2 game console but not on Microsoft's Xbox.

Like Microsoft, Sony said it would continue to support online features and companion functions for its existing sports video games.