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Sony set to unveil new PlayStation

Sony is poised to unveil the next PlayStation game console on February 20, a date that would give the Japanese electronics company a head start over Microsoft's expected announcement of an Xbox 360 successor in June.

Sony invited journalists to an evening press event in New York City. The company has not said what it plans to show off, but signs indicate that it will be the PlayStation 4. Sony would only say that it "will deliver and speak about the future PlayStation business".

Such a console would follow Nintendo's Wii U, which launched last autumn, and precede Microsoft's next Xbox game console, which is likely to be unveiled in June at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said it is a "super smart" move for Sony to pre-empt Microsoft. This way, the PlayStation 4 will get the spotlight without much competition.

The currently available PlayStation 3 went on sale in 2006, a year after the Xbox 360. But Xbox 360 has been more popular, largely because of its robust online service, Xbox Live, which allows people to play games with others online. The Wii is still the top seller among the three consoles, though it has lost momentum in recent years.

The Wii U was the first of the newest generation of video game consoles to launch, but sales so far have been disappointing.

Nintendo's president Satoru Iwata acknowledged recently that the Wii U and the handheld Nintendo 3Ds did not do well over the holidays, but he ruled out a price cut for the new console.

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