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Sony UK 'ready and willing' to break sales record with PS4

Plus: PlayStation aims to close the gap on Xbox in the UK, believes PS4 can reclaim the Wii's casual market

The UK arm of PlayStation believes that pent-up demand for the PS4, coupled with a healthy launch day allocation, gives the new console a real chance to break Britain's all-time sales record.

Currently the fastest selling console in the UK is Sony's PSP, which was sold to 185,000 consumers after just four days on the market. But, hours ahead of Sony's midnight PS4 launch event in Covent Garden, the corporation's UK managing director Fergal Gara said the PS4 could hit new heights.

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Gara (left) attended the London PS Vita launch event in 2011 and is making final preparations for the PS4 release party in Covent Garden

"Like North America, the UK is a huge priority for us because it sits at the front-end of appetite for new technology," Gara told CVG.

"With PS4, stock allocation in the UK is very healthy indeed and we go into this ready and willing and break our own previous launch record."

Microsoft may have already usurped the PSP's record, however. The software giant launched its Xbox One console on Friday and, within 48 hours, had already amassed 150,000 unit sales across the UK.

It is unclear if the company has enough remaining supply to outpace the PSP record. Nintendo's Wii U, meanwhile, sold 40,000 units in 48 hours.

"We can't wind back the clock with PS3, but we are highly ambitious with PS4"

Sony sold around ten million PS2s in the UK, yet lost its grip on the market with the release of the PS3, which has so far sold more than five million units in total. Microsoft's Xbox 360 is far ahead, with total UK sales of more than 8.4 million.

Gara insisted that "beating the competition is not the most important thing here", but says Sony believes it can close the gap.

"There is definitely an ambition to reduce that gap, but first and foremost the ambition is to be the gamers' choice, and I think one leads to the other. I think we're doing a great job for the gamer, the market share will follow," he explained.

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Sony UK has taken over London's famous OXO tower as part of the PS4 launch campaign

"The PS3 is now in the twilight of its years, so we're not saying we'll fix the PS3's [market share gap] and we can't wind back the clock, but we are highly ambitious for PS4, and the early demand is superb. We are going to come out of the blocks very strong.

"So we will certainly compete better this time, we've certainly got a better shout with a really great machine at such a great price. We've entered the cycle on time at the target price, with a great feel-good factor among gamers. The support we've had from the community has been humbling."

He added: "Satisfying the gamer is the most important thing, satisfying our shareholders is maybe the second. But if we're doing both of those things it is likely we'll be the lead console."

Elsewhere in his interview with CVG, Gara suggested PS4 could win over casual gamers' hearts, and dismissed industry suggestions that the whole market has declined in the wake of the smartphone games revolution and Nintendo's slump in hardware sales.

"If you compare the core gamer market in the UK to the generation before, there was about ten million PS2s and two million consoles from Nintendo and Microsoft in the UK, so the current generation has expanded from that.

"Of course, within the last generation the PS2 had a good chunk of the casual market with games like Buzz and SingStar, and in this last cycle it was the Wii that grabbed that casual market. So if you combine the Wii and the core consoles, the installed base is about 20 million, which obviously represents huge growth over the previous generation.

"Time will tell which company will have the idea that draws in the mass market again"

"So what is the potential for the market this generation? I would say the core market will remain robust, and time will tell which company will have the idea that draws in the mass market again and excites them the way we have seen in the past. Credit to Nintendo, they did a superb job in the last generation, I think the challenge is for PlayStation to pick up that market.

"We are absolutely focused on the core gamer. Everything in the machine, and the painful and expensive decisions we took to assemble it, has been built for the core gamer. But with a relatively assessable price point on day one, there's no reason not to say you can't pull in the casual gamer earlier in the cycle than usual."

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