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EA's Probst predicts slide in Sony's market lead

Electronic Arts' chief executive Larry Probst has predicted that Sony will see a decline in its market share in the current console generation - but he still expects the PS3 to come out on top.

"We expect that there will be a more level playing field this time around than last time," Probst told an investor conference in the United States this week, according to the Reuters news agency.

Probst, who recently announced that he'll be stepping back from the CEO role at EA on April 2nd to allow former chief operating officer John Riccitiello to return to the company as its new chief executive, highlighted the "expensive" price of the PS3 as a key problem facing the console. He pointed out that the audience at Sony's E3 conference gasped when the $600 price point was revealed.

He also praised the headway made by Sony's rivals, Microsoft and Nintendo, revealing that EA has increased its investment in development for both the Wii and the DS - while Microsoft, he said, appears to be on track to increase its market share.

Despite his clear belief that Sony will be unable to repeat the sheer dominance of PSone and PS2 in this generation, however, Probst did emphasise that he believes the PS3 will "win" this console battle - but by a far smaller margin than Sony is used to.

He also tempered his description of the PS3 as "expensive" by pointing out that the technology in the system is very powerful for the money. "No one should count Sony out at this point in the game," he commented. "This is going to be a long race."