NEW YORK -- Sony unveiled its next-generation gaming system, the PlayStation 4, and promised social and remote capabilities. Wednesday s announcement gives the struggling Japanese electronics company a head start over Microsoft and an Xbox 360 successor.

The new PlayStation s controller resembles that of the PlayStation 3, but adds a touchpad, motion control and a share button. The Japanese electronics giant said the console will be part of a new ecosystem focused on hardware, software and the fastest, most powerful gaming network.

The PlayStation 4 will be Sony Corp. s first major game console since the PlayStation 3 went on sale in 2006. Microsoft Corp. is expected to unveil the next Xbox in June at the E3 video game expo in Los Angeles. Last fall, Nintendo started selling the Wii U, though it plays catch-up in some respects in bringing the ability to play high-definition games.

Although the Xbox 360 came out a year before PlayStation 3, Microsoft s game machine has been more popular, largely because of its robust online service, Xbox Live, which allows people to play games with others online. The original Wii has sold more units since its launch than both its rivals, but it lost momentum as the novelty of its motion controller faded. Sales of the new Wii U have been slow.

Underscoring the importance of a new PlayStation and the U.S. market, Sony is holding its announcement event in New York rather than in Japan, as it had in the past. The event is at the Hammerstein Ballroom in midtown Manhattan.

Here s a running account of the PlayStation event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are EST. Presenters include Andrew House, president and group chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.; Mark Cerny, lead architect for the PlayStation 4; and David Perry, co-founder of the Internet game company Gaikai, which Sony bought last year.

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