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Sony chief warns PS3 will be "expensive"; PS2 hits sales highs

Last week at Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation Meeting in Japan, company president Ken Kutaragi appeared on stage to discuss further information on the current status of the PlayStation 3.

Last week at Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation Meeting in Japan, company president Ken Kutaragi appeared on stage to discuss further information on the current status of the PlayStation 3.

Kutaragi started out by reconfirming that the PS3 will be backwards-compatible with PlayStation and PlayStation 2 games and support high-definition TVs. "We're looking at a life cycle of 10 years with the PlayStation 3. We're currently shifting from standard TVs to HD TVs," said Kutaragi. "But in the next couple of years, most flat-panel TVs will be full HD. We're releasing the PS3 with full HD features from the start so that consumers won't have to buy another version of the console in the future. For the same reason, we're using Blu-ray as the PS3's disc format."

"I'm aware that with all these technologies, the PS3 can't be offered at a price that's targeted towards households. I think everyone can still buy it if they wanted to," said Kutaragi to a mostly Japanese crowd. "But we're aiming for consumers throughout the world. So we're going to have to do our best (in containing the price)."

Then Kutaragi issued a somewhat ominous warning. "I'm not going to reveal its price today. I'm going to only say that it'll be expensive," he stated.

Sony also gave an update of the latest PlayStation 2 sales statistics, revealing it has shipped 91.62 million PS2 units worldwide as of 20 July. Of those, 37 million were in North America, 21.41 were in Japan and Asia, and 33.21 were in Europe. PS2 software has shipped a cumulative 863 million during the same period: 395 million in America, 176 million in Japan, including Asia, and 292 million in Europe.

When including original PlayStation game sales, the software figure jumps to 1.822 billion units: 767 million in America, 461 million in Japan and Asia, and 594 million in Europe and PAL regions. Overall, the PlayStation and PS2 are currently available in 120 countries with a library of more than 13,000 games: more than 7,700 for the PlayStation and 5,200 for the PS2.

As for sales in Japan, Sony disclosed that there have been some demographic changes following the launch of the new, slimline PS2 console last November. While most owners of the old PS2 were aged 25-29, the majority of buyers of the slimline model are 40-44. Buyers aged 30-39 have increased, while consumers in the 20-29 age range have dramatically dropped, possibly because they already own a PS2. Sony also revealed that the number of female purchasers has been increasing, and sales of the PS2 rose from 12.9 percent to 17.8 percent with the appearance of the new model.

After briefing visitors with the latest statistics on the PS2's success, Sony showed off some short trailers of anticipated upcoming games, starting with Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. Aside from the main character Vincent, other characters from the original series confirmed in the trailer include Cid, Barret, and Tifa. Other games shown at the meeting included: Bandai's Dragon Ball Z Sparking!, Naruto: Uzumaki Ninden, Kidou Senshi Gundam Seed Destiny: Generation of CE; Square Enix's Grandia and Code Age Commanders; Capcom's Shin Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams and Resident Evil 4; Namco's Tales of Legendia; Atlus' Devil Summoner: Kuzunoha Raidou; Sega's Pro Yakyuu Team o Tsukurou 3; Konami's Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence; and Sony Computer Entertainment's Ratchet & Clank 4th (which may be the Japanese title for Ratchet: Deadlocked) and Shadow of the Colossus.

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