Sony has confirmed the European launch date and pricing for its long awaited PlayStation 3 (PS3) games console – just under two months from now.
The PS3, which made its bow in the US and Japan last November, will go on sale in Ireland on Friday 23 March and will cost €629.99. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe said it only plans to launch the premium 60GB hard drive model to begin with. The 20GB PS3 will be released later in the year depending on demand, Sony said.
A million PS3 units will be made available during the initial launch period, backed by more than 30 games for the console, which is backwards compatible with PlayStation 2 titles.
As well as disc-based games Sony will debut downloadable titles on its online service, PlayStationNetwork. These include Tekken: Dark Resurrection and Gran Turismo HD Concept, which is presented in high-definition format. The latter has been downloaded more than 350,000 times since it was launched last month in North America and Japan.
At the same time as the European launch, Sony will issue a new system update that it said would “further enhance the entertainment potential of PS3”.
The PlayStation is historically a very strong seller – particularly in Ireland – but the PS3 is playing catch-up in the console stakes, having ceded almost a year’s worth of sales to its closest rival, the Xbox 360. Microsoft’s console also has a significant price advantage over the PS3, with a basic version retailing for half the price of Sony’s offering.
Sony is betting that the inclusion of high-definition technology – it ships with a disc reader in the Blu-Ray format – and the cell processor will justify the extra outlay for punters.
By Gordon Smith