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Kaz talks up PSP2 touch screen potential

Plus, Sony boss doesn't fear the iPhone.

Sony Computer Entertainment president Kaz Hirai has added further fuel to speculation that the PSP2 will have touch screen controls.

In an interview with The New York Times, Hirai explained that new control inputs will be key in competing with Nintendo and Apple.

"Depending on the game, there are ones where you can play perfectly well with a touch panel,'' Hirai explained. ''But you can definitely play immersive games better with physical buttons and pads. I think there could be games where you're able to use both in combination."

Hirai went on to explain that the rise of mobile gaming on the iPhone and Android devices shouldn't be seen as a threat to a new dedicated handheld gaming device, but as an opportunity.

''We're seeing people who never had an interest in games join the gaming population," he said. "That means that the gaming industry pie is getting bigger."

In any case, Hirai argued, "The games being played on Android and Apple platforms are fundamentally different from the world of immersive games that Sony Computer Entertainment, and PlayStation aims for."

Very little is known for sure about Sony's next handheld but rumours have suggested that, alongside those touch screen controls, the PSP2 will boast "early PS3 game quality visuals", two cameras and full digital game delivery.

As well as the mooted new handheld, rumours have also been flying around about a new PlayStation Phone. Hirai as good as confirmed the device, which may or may not be called the Xperia Play, expressing concern over how consumers might tell the gadget apart from a regular PSP.

''We don't want gamers to be asking, what's the difference between that and a PSP,'' he said. ''We have to come up with a message that users will understand. It would have to be a product that keeps the PlayStation's strengths intact.''

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Fred Dutton

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Fred Dutton was Eurogamer's US news editor, based in Washington DC.

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