The U.S. launch of the PlayStation 2 should help rekindle the console wars, as the new machine competes head-to-head against Sega's Dreamcast. Nintendo's Dolphin and Microsoft's Xbox are expected in 2001.
Sony plans to crank out 1 million PlayStation 2 units for the launch, with 2 million more units to ship through March 31, 2001.
At $299, the unit costs the same as the original PlayStation did on its U.S. launch five years ago. The machine is far more complex, however, with its powerful Emotion Engine processor and ability to play DVD movies along with audio CDs.
As expected, the PlayStation 2 does not include a built-in hard drive but offers the option to install one. The unit can also connect to other devices through the console's USB (universal serial bus) and "iLink" ports.
The PlayStation 2 will not ship with a built-in modem, as many had expected, but it will contain an expansion bay designed to handle the modem. The modems will be sold separately and will not be available at the launch. A company representative said they should be available shortly thereafter, but the price has not been disclosed.
"The overwhelming success of the product launch proves that the market is ready for PlayStation 2, as we chart a path toward the future of networked digital entertainment," Sony Computer Entertainment chief executive Ken Kutaragi said in a statement.
Sony announced the launch deatils in Los Angeles ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show there. Sony said its games for PlayStaton 2 will cost $49 and said it expects there will be more than 50 titles by the end of the year. The machine also is designed to play games for the original PlayStation.
The PlayStation 2 was an overnight hit in Japan, selling 980,000 units in the first three days, just shy of Sony's expectations. Sony said it has now sold 1.8 million of the new consoles in Japan.
However, Sony said its quarterly loss nearly doubled, largely a result of the increased costs of marketing the new unit.