Almost a year after its last official discussion of the PlayStation 3 at E3 2005, Sony has confirmed that the new console will enjoy a simultaneous worldwide launch in November of this year.
Speaking at the hastily re-arranged
Tokyo developer meeting, which is not normally open to press, Sony Computer Entertainment President Ken Kutaragi announced that the console would launch within the first ten days of November. Although he was not specific about the reasons for the delay, referring only to problems finalizing the specification of the Blu-ray drive, Kutaragi indicated that Sony expected to have a production capacity of one million units a month by November and that the company expected to ship six million units by the end of March 2007 (implying three million units worldwide for 2006).
A November release represents a significant delay to the previously announced launch date of spring, but this was always assumed to apply only to Japan. An early November launch in the U.S. is largely within previous expectations and a launch this year in Europe is actually much earlier than previously assumed.
Although Kutaragi indicated that the developer meeting was not intended to reveal any new hardware or software he did briefly discuss plans for an Xbox Live style online service, currently referred to as the PlayStation Network Platform. The apparently free service will feature functionality such as matchmaking, messaging, rankings, friends lists, voice and video chat, in-game shopping and game downloads. Publishers will be allowed to connect their own servers, with Sony Online Entertainment providing the hardware infrastructure, and GameSpy their range of middleware tools and software.
The only other details of the PlayStation 3's hardware given related to its use of a 60GB hard drive pre-installed with Linux, which will apparently be mandatory for playing games. Interestingly, though, Kutaragi indicated that Sony had not yet decided whether the drive would be shipped with the console or not.
After re-confirming backwards compatibility with both PSone and PlayStation 2 titles (at higher resolutions), and that all PlayStation 3 would be pressed on Blu-ray discs, Kutaragi finished his discussion of the PlayStation 3 by indicating that final controllers and development kits would be sent to developers by May, at a cost similar to the PlayStation 2 development kit.