Sony's game-business head Ken Kutaragi said it planned to unveil a playable version of the new console at next year's E3, the annual video-game trade show scheduled to take place from May 18 to 20 in Los Angeles.
"There has been some talk that development is not going well, but we expect to have a playable version at E3. We are pushing ahead with that schedule in mind," Kutaragi told a meeting of developers, suppliers and media.
Kutaragi did not mention a launch date for the new console, dubbed "PS3" by some Web Sites, but company officials said it may follow a similar timetable to market as its predecessor, the PlayStation 2 (PS2), which went on sale in Japan almost a year after it was first displayed.
Next year's E3 could be the stage for a showdown of new home consoles from the industry's main hardware makers, including Nintendo Co. Ltd., which has pledged to take the wraps off its new game machine, codenamed "Revolution," at that time.
Microsoft officials have repeatedly said that its new game machine, dubbed "Xbox Next" by media, would not be beaten to market by Sony. Some industry watchers expect Microsoft to unveil its new machine at E3 as well.
"It looks like Microsoft is fairly advanced at the moment. The company might have gotten wrong-footed a bit, but it looks like everything is going to turn up at the same time," said Hiroshi Kamide, analyst at KBC Securities in Tokyo.
Sony controls two-thirds of the global home-console market with the PS2, which came to market months before the Xbox and a year before Nintendo's GameCube.
"One thing is for sure. This will change the landscape of the industry significantly," said Kamide.
Sony's shares closed up 0.5 percent at 4,020 yen before the news, underperforming the benchmark Nikkei 225, which rose 1.4 percent.
Sony's next-generation console will be powered by its "Cell" microprocessor that is being developed with IBM Corp. and Toshiba Corp. as the consumer-electronics industry answer to Intel Corp.'s "Pentium" computer processor. The Cell processor is being billed as chip that is 10 times more powerful than conventional semiconductors with the ability to shepherd large chunks of information through a high-speed Internet network.
Kutaragi's comments on the new console formed the buzz of a briefing that was expected to flag the release of another new Sony game machine, PlayStation Portable (PSP).
Known as the father of the PlayStation, Kutaragi stood by Sony's target to offer the PSP -- its first handheld game machine -- in Japan before the year end, and to launch it in Europe and the United States by March 31, 2005.
Some analysts have said those launch dates are unrealistic, because of delays encountered in development, but Kutaragi unveiled an even loftier goal.
"We've come to the point when there is a PlayStation for almost every television. It's our dream for there to be a PSP for every person," Kutaragi told reporters after the briefing.
Despite those aspirations, there remain many question marks surrounding the PSP, including the machine's price tag and over software titles available at launch.
Kutaragi sought to dispel some of those concerns by saying there were 59 games for the Japanese market in the pipeline for PSP, including titles from Electronic Arts Inc, Square Enix Co. Ltd. and Konami Corp..
"Our primary goal is to do a successful launch for the Japan market and gain positive momentum heading into the overseas markets," Kutaragi told reporters.
Sony Computer Entertainment, the conglomerate's game unit, meanwhile showed off a software title called "Talkman," which allows the user to speak into a microphone in one language which the application then translates into another language.