The PlayStation 4 controller and console on display during the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in June.
Bloomberg News

Sony said its PlayStation 4 will be landing on store shelves in North America on Nov. 15–around the same launch period as Microsoft's Xbox One–as the two companies battle for initial purchases among gamers seeking to play a new generation of videogames.

At an event in Germany Tuesday, Sony said its PlayStation 4 would be launching in 32 countries before the end of the year. The device will arrive in Europe on Nov. 29, the company said.

Sony said pre-orders for the new PlayStation indicate strong demand, with over 1 million units spoken for so far.

“2013 is the year when interactive entertainment takes a major leap forward with the launch of PS4,” said Andrew House, global head of Sony’s PlayStation group. “We set out to build the most powerful gaming platform with a deeply held consistent focus on you, the gamer.”

Microsoft has said it plans to launch its competing Xbox One in 13 countries sometime in November.
The PlayStation 4’s launch comes at a trying time for the industry. Sales have fallen precipitously without attractive new hardware, and worldwide console videogame sales estimates for the next few years indicate expansion at a far slower rate than in years past.

So the battle between Sony and Microsoft for gamers’ attention is tougher than ever. Sony has taken a nearly pure videogame tack, building and acquiring new technologies to help it stream videogames to handheld devices. It is also building a streaming game service, which does all the computational work for intricate visuals on a server, and then beams the images over the Web to the videogame console. At $399, the PlayStation 4 will also cost $100 less than Microsoft’s offering.

Microsoft, meanwhile, is emphasizing broader possibilities than gaming for the Xbox One, focusing on multimedia capabilities such as live television viewing and interactions with its Kinect motion controller. Microsoft has also developed streaming videogame technology that layers images from a server into images created by the videogame console.

Analysts expect both consoles to sell strongly at first, but whether Sony and Microsoft’s new devices, along with the Nintendo Wii U released last year, can see the same success as their predecessors remains unclear.

Additionally, Sony said it is reducing the price of its PlayStation Vita handheld videogame console to $199 from the $249 price it launched in the U.S. with February last year. The device will be one of the standout accessories for the PlayStation 4 when it launches, allowing customers to stream PlayStation 4 games to the hand-held.