The battle of the video-game consoles will reach new intensity this week when Sony gives the first full public demonstration of its new-generation PlayStation 3 at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles. At the same exhibition, Nintendo will unveil its latest model, the Wii.
It remains to be seen, however, if the much-anticipated new PlayStation turns out to be further cause for celebration for Sony, which has dominated the games market ever since the first PlayStation came out in the late 1990s.
The new market leader could well be Microsoft, whose Xbox 360 went on sale last November, has already shifted three million units and could well shift another 12 million by the time PlayStation 3 hits the stores shortly before Christmas.
The prevailing wisdom among analysts attending this week's expo is that every new generation of consoles has the capacity to remake the market entirely. The electronic gaming sector has been close to dormant in anticipation of the Wii and PS3, since teenagers and other consumers are reluctant to buy new games for old systems when they know something better is just around the corner.
Sony dominated the previous generation of consoles. PlayStation 2 accounted for 64 per cent of the US market, with Microsoft a distant second with 16 per cent.
Now, however, some analysts are predicting Microsoft could gobble up almost half of the market, with Sony dropping down to about one-third. It probably does not help that PS3 is expected to retail for about $499 (£250)in the US, $100 more than the new-generation Xbox.
Sony was expected to play up the technical features of the PS3 at a news conference late yesterday - features that include much greater chip speed and a high-definition DVD player.
"Being out the door first isn't nearly as important as being the best," Jack Tretton of Sony's American computer entertainment division said.
The new Xbox has alluring new features, including the ability to add songs from CDs and MP3 players to its games. Microsoft will also unveiling a new Xbox-exclusive game called Halo 3.Reuse content