Judging by Wednesday's event, Sony seeks to improve but not revolutionize game play. The games were updates to existing ones, with improved graphics.
"At the end of the day, this is a device by gamers for gamers," Tretton said. "The games that people go out and spend billions of dollars on are your traditional shooters."
The original Wii has sold more units since its launch than both its rivals, but it has lost momentum in recent years as the novelty of its motion controller faded. Nintendo said it sold 3.1 million Wii Us by the end of 2012. It was a disappointing start for the first of a new generation of gaming systems.
In some ways, notably its ability to display high-definition games, the Wii U was just catching up to the PS3 and the Xbox 360, the preferred consoles to play popular games such as "Call of Duty."
All three console makers are trying to position their devices as entertainment hubs that can deliver movies, music and social networking as they try to stay relevant in the age of smartphones and tablets. The PlayStation online network will have access to Sony's video and music services, as well as Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, with paid subscriptions to those services. People will also be able to access Facebook.