* Launch delayed from March to unspecified later date
* Shares close up 2.8 pct ahead of news, outperforming sector (Adds closing share price, background)
TOKYO, Jan 13 (Reuters) - Sony Corp (6758.T) said it will postpone the launch of the latest version of its blockbuster racing game series “Gran Turismo”, citing production-related matters, in a potential blow to its videogame operations.
“Gran Turismo 5”, designed for Sony’s PlayStation 3 (PS3) game console, was due to be launched in March, the final month of the current financial year. A new launch date has not been set.
Sony, locked in a three-way battle with Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.OS in the global videogame industry, has sold more than 53 million units of “Gran Turismo” titles.
A spokeswoman at Sony’s game unit said on Wednesday the company has not changed its game hardware and software sales targets for the year ending on March 31 despite the delay.
Sony aims to sell 13 million PS3 consoles in the year to March and a total of 240 million units of software titles for the PS3, PlayStation 2 and the PlayStation Portable handheld gear.
Prior to the announcement, shares in Sony closed up 2.8 percent at 2,998 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market’s electrical machinery index .IELEC.T, which fell 1.1 percent. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Michael Watson)