A visitor plays a Playstation 4 at the Sony exhibition stand during the Gamescom 2013 in Cologne

PlayStation 4 launch date confirmed

Sony has announced the launch date for its PlayStation 4 console, with one million pre-orders already on the books.

Gamers in Europe will be able to get their hands on the eagerly anticipated console from November 29, while those in North America will get it from November 15, a later than expected launch date that gaming experts said could play into the hands of main rival Microsoft, which has yet to announce when its Xbox One will go on sale.

Sony Computer Entertainmen chief executive Andrew House announced the dates at a news conference on the sidelines of Gamescom in Germany, Europe's biggest videogames fair, adding that the console will be available in 32 countries worldwide during the holiday season.

"The response we have received is nothing short of incredible," he said.

Sony first gave a sneak preview of the PS4 earlier in the year. The Japanese firm said the ''gaming experience'' is at the heart of its latest console, with the device including a feature which allows gamers to broadcast a live stream of their play.

PS4 provides access to social networks including Facebook and Twitter while Sony has also promised to develop cloud technology to enable users to play their old games via the internet.

Anticipation is high because it is seven years since the last PlayStation and eight years since the previous Xbox, and with Microsoft only saying it will start selling its latest console at some point in November it could steal a march on Sony by pushing its launch date ahead of its rival.

"From Microsoft's point of view it looks pretty good," said Seth Barton of technology website Expert Reviews. "I think Microsoft will probably want to get in first and launch a week or two before Sony just to claw back a bit of an edge.

"If you've got a PS4 pre-order you will definitely get one for Christmas, but if you haven't then that boat has sailed and you haven't got a hope of getting one, and then you might end up getting a Microsoft instead."

He said PlayStation 4's pre-order figure was "pretty impressive".

"Sony couldn't have announced it any later; you're unlikely to get a launch in December," he added. "It's quite possible both consoles will sell out before Christmas and you won't be able to get either of them."

Last week it emerged that retailers were halting pre-orders of the PS4, prompting fears of a shortage at Christmas. A high level of interest in the £349 console is leading to shops warning customers that new orders will not guarantee a machine at launch. Microsoft has said the XBox One will set gamers back £429.

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