Sony Computer Entertainment Australia spokesman Adrian Christie confirmed that the PS3 will be launched locally in November this year, bringing us in line with a global release date announced by Sony overnight. No specific date in November has been outlined, but Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutagari did say it would arrive in all territories before the US Thanksgiving holiday (the last Thursday in November).
The November release date is later than Sony's initial release plans for Japan and the US, which was originally set for the second quarter of 2006 (before last night's announcement, Sony had not disclosed any release dates for Australia). Kutaragi said the reason for the launch delay overseas was due to "Blu-ray spec finalisation", which confirms widely circulated Japanese newspaper reports that said that the delay was due to copyright-protection problems with the next-generation console's Blu-ray drive.
Besides announcing the launch date at the 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing in Tokyo, Kutaragi made official another widely reported aspect of the PS3. He said that Sony is indeed preparing an Xbox Live-like online gaming service for the console, which would be called the "PlayStation Network Platform". Though he was short on specifics, the executive did say that currently Sony planned the "basic service" -- which will allow online gameplay -- to be "free".
Sony plans to avoid the shortages that befell Microsoft with the Xbox 360. Kutaragi said that the company plans on producing at least one million units of the console each month in order to keep the supply channel full. He said the goal was to ship six million PS3s worldwide by March 2007.
The SCE president also told the crowd that the PS3 would use a 60GB 2.5-inch hard disc drive (HDD). A slide show during the presentation said the HDD would be loaded with the Linux operating system instead of Microsoft's Windows OS. The show also said it could be used as a "home server", could be directly connected to the Internet, and would be fully "upgradeable".
Kutaragi also made it clear that the hard drive will be necessary to play games -- Sony is telling developers to make games assuming every PS3 has a hard drive installed. "We view the hard drive to be mandatory for the PS3," he said. "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."
However, Kutaragi revealed that Sony had not decided whether or not the PlayStation 3 would come with the hard-drive preinstalled. "We might end up installing it in all PS3s, though that depends on the market," he said. This raises the possibility that the PS3 could be sold without a piece of hardware needed to play PS3 games -- in effect forcing consumers to buy a peripheral for basic functionality.
Kutaragi also said that PS3 games would be released only on Blu-ray discs, as DVDs have become too easy for software pirates to duplicate. The high-capacity format is capable of storing around 50GB on a single disc. Sony reps confirmed the PS3 will still play DVDs and CDs, as well as PS2 and PS discs, as previously announced.
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