TOKYO: Sony will this month announce the late 2013 launch of its latest PlayStation console, Japanese media said Thursday, as is looks to its games business in a bid to repair its tattered finances.
The much-anticipated announcement will come at a "PlayStation Meeting" set for February 20 in New York, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and Kyodo news agency reported. Sony declined comment on the reports.
The firm last week sent out invitations to a mystery event in New York, but declined to give details, sparking rumours the world would get its first look at the newest console, seven years after the PlayStation 3 (PS3) was launched.
Hammered by four years of big losses, particularly in its television business, Sony is hoping the multi-billion-dollar games market will help it return to the black.
Both Sony and Xbox maker Microsoft have been expected to unveil successors to their competing consoles, which have been evolving into home entertainment hubs for films, television, music, social networking and more.
However, the the once-mighty gaming firms are struggling to retain market share as they fend off a challenge from cheap -- or sometimes free -- downloadable games for smartphones and tablets.
Last week, Japanese rival Nintendo warned that sales of its much-hype Wii U console would be lower than forecast.
The mass-circulation Asahi said the PlayStation 4 would be launched for the year-end shopping season in Japan and the United States with a price tag of more than 40,000 yen ($430).
Its controller would look similar to the PS3, but was embedded with a touch pad, the daily said.
A powerful microchip would let users download games, music and videos faster than smartphones or personal computers, while a "share" button would make it possible to upload Twitter and Facebook messages, it said.
The PlayStation series has proved a huge hit with games fans. The PS3, which was released in November 2006, has sold more than 75 million units, while the first PlayStation, launched in 1994, sold more than 100 million.
However, more than 155 million units of the PlayStation 2 have been sold since its debut in 2000, making it one of the best-selling consoles of all time.
Sony rose 3.17 percent to 1,528 yen in Tokyo afternoon trade Thursday, hours ahead of the announcement of its April-December financial results. (AFP)