PSP, DS to hit retail in same week?

European clash of the handheld titans in line for March 18th 2005, claims UK retail magazine.

A report in the British trade press has indicated that the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS consoles may launch in the same week in Europe - with a March 18th date apparently pencilled in for both systems.

Retail trade magazine MCV reports that the week ending Friday March 18th has been tentatively marked as a launch date by both companies - a week ahead of the Easter weekend, which is traditionally a busy time for the games market, and well after the usual post-Christmas sales.

Nintendo's Game Boy Advance SP and Microsoft's Xbox consoles have previously enjoyed successful launches around the mid-March period, and with neither PSP nor DS in line for a Christmas launch in Europe, the March date does seem likely to be the first preference for both Sony and Nintendo.

The consoles are aimed at very different markets - a demographic split emphasised not only by the platform holders themselves, but by the publishers developing for the systems, with EA's Larry Probst telling us recently that he expects the DS to appeal to the under-18 market while the PSP will be more popular in the over-18 market - and are likely to launch at very different price points.

The PSP is expected to launch at a price point of at least 300 Euro, while the DS is expected to be given a price tag of 199 Euro - or perhaps even as little as 149 Euro - emphasising the difference in approach on the two machines.

However, even given this split in demographic appeal and price point, it seems unlikely that Nintendo and Sony would launch their consoles on the same day if it could possibly be avoided, as to do so would damage the uptake of the systems in the early adopter market and potentially harm first weekend sales figures.

If both companies are planning to aim for March 18th at the moment, we expect that one or the other will move its date in the coming months - a decision which may also be prompted by a need to slip the launch of one of the systems due to manufacturing difficulties, as both Sony and Nintendo are expected to into significant trouble in supplying the demand for their devices at launch.

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