Sony is expected to unveil its next-generation gaming system at a New York event Wednesday evening, a development that would give the struggling electronics company a head start over Microsoft and an Xbox 360 successor.

The PlayStation 4 would be Sony Corp.'s first major game console since the PlayStation 3 went on sale in 2006. The unveiling would give Sony the spotlight on video games, at least until Microsoft Corp. unveils the next Xbox in June, as expected, at the E3 video game expo in Los Angeles. 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.

Besides Microsoft, Sony has been struggling to keep up with powerful rivals such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. The company is promising nifty mobile devices, sophisticated digital cameras and other gadgetry as part of its comeback effort. 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.