Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Finally some PS3 details

After clinging to their spring 2006 release date and keeping tight lipped about anything else Sony has finally released some details on the PS3. The main announcement of their press conference was a worldwide (Asia, North America and Europe) release of the PS3 set for November with 6 million units predicted to hit the market this year. A few other details were also released:
- A free "basic" online service will be available at launch allowing voice chat and lobby matching.
- The system will require (and ship with) a upgradeable 60GB hard drive allowing the system to run linux.
- 100% PS1 and PS2 backward compatibility allowing these games to be played in HD.
- all PS3 will be on blu-ray disks.
Unfortunately no pricing or launch line-up was announced.

The worldwide release planed for just a month before Christmas (where have we seen that before) doesn’t seem like a smart move, as somebody living in the UK delayed releases are frustrating but so is being unable to buy a console for 3 months after its release. I for one wouldn’t mind waiting till say Feb 2007 if it meant fewer shortages in all territories. The online service sounds a lot like xbox live but interestingly there was no mention of actually playing games online or whether this system is required in games, as with xbox 360 or an optional extra like the massively underused infrastructure mode on the PSP. All games being available on the blu-ray have raised questions about software pricing as the physical discs are more expensive than DVDs, at least initially, and 360 games are already commanding a sizable premium over last gen games, could we really see $70/£55 games? The hard drive and backwards compatibility seems to be the true bright point, MS dropped the ball on both points with the 360 and Sony made no such error, these are becoming must have features in modern consoles.

In general the news released seems somewhat reassuring but deliberately vague and lacking anything to really make the system stand out. The vital points of both hardware and software pricing where avoided and the online plans provided more questions than answers. Not to mention nothing at all in terms of games on display or announced as launch titles leaves me feeling that actual software could be a little thin at launch but there is always E3 for more details on this front. Overall this was a much needed event to put a stop to some of the rampant speculation going on and sure up some of the concern regarding the release. Well played Sony.

More Details at IGN.

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