"It would be undesirable to launch PS4 later than the competition"

Sony has hinted that it intends to ensure that the next Xbox does not enjoy the same headstart in the market that the Xbox 360 had over the PS3.

And with Xbox 360 being heavily rumoured for either next year or 2013, that means the PS4 is likely far closer than we think.

And of course, Nintendo’s next new machine will be with us next year – though whether Sony considers that to be a true competitor is unclear.

"I think we would consider it undesirable to be significantly later than the competition [with the next PlayStation]," European PlayStation boss Jim Ryan told Eurogamer.

However, keen to stick up for its current machine Ryan added: "There’s still a lot of unfinished business on PS3.

"If you look at PlayStation 2, now in excess of 150m units installed globally, a huge majority of that was done at price points of 120 or lower. [With PS3] we’ve only just hit 199 in the UK, so clearly there’s a considerable untapped part of the market there."

Though talk of a new PlayStation has been bubbling for some time, it has not attracted anywhere near the velocity of the Next Xbox rumours – in part no doubt due to PS3’s superior technical grunt but also because PS3 was slow to get going on the global market, making it to all intents and purposes a fresher machine.

Sony, too, has been keen to downplay talk of a successor. In February of this year it claimed to be not deliberating” PS4, and added in July that any console won’t arrive for quite some time”.

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