Senior sources at two key publishers have indicated that the delay to Sony's PlayStation Portable launch in Europe may be even more severe than previously believed - with a September date now rumoured to be under consideration.
The handheld console, which launched in North America last week, has not been given a firm ship date in Europe since it slipped past its originally planned launch window in March.
It's now widely believed that June is the earliest possible date for the system to arrive - but comments from two senior sources close to the development of titles for the PSP have suggested that Sony may be considering slipping the system past summer entirely.
Our sources have suggested that Sony is planning to announce the European launch date for the console at E3, which takes place in late May - and would indeed leave the company on a tight schedule to get the console out in June.
According to one source, no final decision has yet been made, but titles originally being pencilled in for early autumn for the handheld are now being re-positioned as launch titles - while some of the US launch titles may never come to Europe, as publishers could shunt them out of the line-up to ensure a clear run for their Christmas PSP ranges.
"This has caused us considerable concern because we have been under pressure to deliver a master, loads of PR materials etc., and now suddenly we get told its been delayed," one source working on a title for the PSP told us this week. "I have no idea when they really will do it, other than to wait for the apparent official E3 announcement, which bearing in mind is late May means logistically it won't be anytime soon."
"But how long can they delay this, because USA and Japan might be many months ahead of them," he continued. "There must be a hell of lot of publishers and developers who are going to be affected by this, and perhaps cutting projects or something equally drastic."
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe had not responded to our request for comment at the time of publication of this article.
Sony's reason for slipping the console past summer could be as simple as an ongoing supply shortage. The company managed to ship only half a million units in Japan in the month of launch, while in order to supply a million units to the USA for launch, the European and South Korean launches had to be bumped back. With both Japan and North America to keep supplied, the process of manufacturing a respectable number of units for the European market could be even slower, unless the firm brings new production capacity online.
Meanwhile, reports from the USA indicate that while the PSP launch has been a success at specialist chains - with many stores from chains such as GameStop and Electronics Boutique selling out their stock of the console - many units still remain unsold from the initial million unit allocation, as mainstream retailers have seen surprisingly slow sell-through.