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Playstation 3 Release in November!!!


(2006-03-15)

After a period of inactivity that bordered on the worrying, Sony made an official announcement in Tokyo today at the 2006 Playstation Business Briefing about the name on everyone's lips, Playstation 3. Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutagari explained Sony's plans for the next-gen console:

  • The PS3 will be released simulatenously in N.America, Japan and Europe in November 2006
  • The PS3 will have it's own Live style on-line service called Playstation Network Platform.
  • The PS3 will use a hard disc drive(HDD) but it is unclear whether it will come packaged or separately.
  • Sony will be producing 1 million units per month to accomodate the demand.
  • The PS3 games will be on Blu-Ray discs only.
  • The PS3 will play normal DVDs, CDs
  • The PS3 will play PS2 and PSone games, although whether it is fully backwards compatible is unclear.
  • No mention of the PS3's cost

The launch details will almost inevitably draw comparisons with Microsoft's Xbox 360 release five months ago. However Sony was keen to emphasise that theirs will be far closer to a simultaneous release than the Xbox 360's was. The time frame makes perfect sense, with both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays being the times when consumers are most free with their money. This early announcement not only gives consumers the chance to save for what will invariably be the most expensive console to date, it builds anticipation and allows Sony the chance to stabilise the pipeline so demand is met.

In what can be construed as a shot at the Xbox 360's rushed launch, Kutagari said:

""Instead of rushing it, we want to make sure we execute a solid launch... We wanted to make the Thanksgiving sales."

Disappointingly however, several grey areas appeared from the announcement. In what seems a bit of a con, every PS3 will need a hard drive to play games but it is unclear whether a HDD will come packaged with the console or bought separately. The PS3 will use a 60GB 2.5" hard disc drive loaded with the Linux operating system, as opposed to Microsoft's Windows OS, and is fully "upgradeable."  It can also be used as a "home server" and connected directly to the internet.  Kutagari would only say:

 "We view the Hard Drive to be mandatory for the PS3. Rather than have developers create games for the PS3 with or without the HDD, we will be asking them to develop games as though all PS3s have the HDD installed. We might end up installing it in all PS3s, though that depends on the market."

It is also unclear what type of service the Playstation Network Platform will offer, although undoubtedly there will be more information over the coming months it seemed Sony was going for a broad general announcement about this service, rather than offering any specific details. Also not on display was any form of software, unsurprising with E3 around the corner but a little disappointing that the announcement wasn't made with more verve and panache.

It does set up the gaming calendar very nicely though, with the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in ten days and then E3 in May, the excitement and announcements will only increase.  

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