Putting an end to months of speculation, Sony Corp. executives on Monday announced a release date and a price for the upcoming PlayStation 3, but gamers will have to pay a hefty price to take advantage of its much-touted technological innovation.
Sony said its next-generation game console would be released in North America and Europe on Nov. 17, in time for the key holiday shopping period. They had previously announced it would be released in the fall, without giving a specific date. Gamers in Japan will get a head start; the PS3 is to be released there on Nov. 11.
The console will come in two versions, one with a 20-gigabyte hard drive for $499 and one with a 60-gigabyte drive, for $599. The 20-gigabyte version will retail for 59,800 yen in Japan and 499 euros in Europe.
The new price tag means that the cheapest PS3 will sell for $100 more than its current top-of-the-line rival, Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was released last fall. Nintendo is also planning a new game console, the Wii, but has not announced pricing or a release date.
Sony executives said the PS3's technological features will give it an edge over its rivals, touting such features as the console's speedy “Cell” processor, Blu-ray disk format for high-definition video and an online network that will include video chat and micropayments.
They also showed off new PS3 games, including a demonstration high-definition version of the racing game “Grand Turismo” and the sword fighting action game “Heavenly Sword," and a new motion-sensitive wireless controller.
“We’re really trying to push what this machine is capable of,” said Phil Harrison, president of Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios.
The presentation came just two days before the start of the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, the video game industry’s largest annual conference.
Nintendo and Microsoft plan similar news conferences Tuesday. (MSNBC.com is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)
The Xbox 360 got an early start on the next-generation console wars and has sold 3.2 million units worldwide since it was released in November. But until recently, Microsoft has been unable to meet demand.
Sony officials said they would have 4 million PS3 units ready by the end of 2006 and another 6 million by March 31, 2007.