Monday, October 30, 2006
Sony CEO Howard Stringer has conceded that the company must explore new ways of boosting profits in order to "offset the performance of the PS3".
Last week, Sony posted its Q2 financial results, revealing a drop in profits of more than 90 per cent - but Stringer is still confident of meeting margin targets.
"We promised the margins for next year will be 5 percent and we have every intention of doing that," he confirmed.
"Considering some of the additional costs of PS3, we have to generate some excitement and profits from elsewhere in the company to offset the performance of PS3".
Stringer added that Sony's consumer electronics division is performing well at present, and said the company's movie division is also set to pull in healthy profits.
He went on to concede that PS3 will perform better in its second year as software sales start to increase, but questioned the validity of rumblings about a delay.
"I think the idea of worrying about a delay in PlayStation is slightly strange to me. Every complex technology runs the risk of delays," Stringer said.
"The point really is that PlayStation 3 is already finished and has been tested in America and has been deemed a creative success. In the end that is what counts".
The PS3 is due to launch in the US on November 17, priced at USD 499 for the 20GB model or USD 599 for the 60GB version.
Japan isn't into the whole first person shooter thing, so unless Genji is really, really good, Ridge Racer 7 is going to be the title to beat at the 11/11 Japanese PS3 launch. Bandai Namco Games seems to be putting its best foot forward with the game, based on comments shared by producer Hideo Teramoto in the latest issue of Famitsu PS2.
Teramoto seems particularly proud of the game's technical merits. He feels that no other machine in the world is capable of producing Ridge Racer 7's combination of 1080p and 60 frames per second visuals. He also made a note of the game's 5.1 support for both sound effects and music.
But in Teramoto's mind, the robust online experience offered by Ridge Racer 7 is equal in importance to its technical merits. The game offers the 14 player races that Ridge Racer 6 offered last year on the X360. But Teramoto feels that the RR7 online experience has evolved beyond that title. Players enter a virtual world in which they compete against other players for money and rank. There's no separation between the main mode of play and an "online mode." Your money and rank are used both for single and online battles.
Famitsu PS2 quizzed Teramoto on one area that's on everyone's mind right now: hard disk support. Ridge Racer 7 makes extensive use of the PS3's hard disk. In addition to saving your game and saving future download contents, the hard disk is used for speeding up gameplay. The game does a hard disk install to the tune of five gigabytes.
The hard disk use could actually increase with Bandai Namco's download plans. Teramoto hopes to make stickers, music and race events available for download. Race events will be downloadable for free from the PlayStation Store. New music tracks will cost money, but Teramoto hopes to make available tracks that are worthy of the download.
Teramoto expects players to get a full half year of play time from Ridge Racer 7, which should be perfect if the PS3 sees a PS2-style software drought following launch.
Mainichi Interactive reports today that Sony, anticipating potential PlayStation 3 shortages for the year-end sales season, has come up with a means of keeping from missing out on potential sales. In place of actual systems, potential PS3 owners in Japan will be able to purchase a voucher guaranteeing a system early next year.
Specifics were not provided from Mainichi, which cited as a source a speech given yesterday by Sony's Chief Financial Officer, Nobuyuki Oneda.
As far as we can tell, this plan concerns only the Japanese market. A good thing, as the whole raincheck thing probably wouldn't go over too well on our shores.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
After causing the company to close down because of the lawsuits filed against them, Sony is actually demanding the payment of £100,000 (US$ 188,000) in legal fees by November 1st.
This news stirred up mix reactions, with some people saying Sony deserves to get it, while some would say that there's just no sense kicking somebody when he's already down. Says Pascal Clarysse, Lik-Sang's marketing director, "Sony should be proud of having such a die-hard import gamers community rushing to buy their products and supporting them with a passion. Instead, they march all over us".
As for Lik-Sang's allegation that four of the top executives of Sony Europe actually got their own PSPs via Lik-Sang just a few days after the Japanese launch, well, it's just safe to surmise that was pretty embarrassing for them. However, Sony in Tokyo declined to comment on the issue, citing the reason that they have this no-comment policy on pending or completed legal action.
Ironic, though, is Sony's revision of shipment forecasts for PSP from 12 million units down to 9 million units supposedly because of a decline in demand for the handheld, just when they succeeded in closing down an unauthorized sales channel to patrons from Europe.
No console maker has ever dominated three consecutive platform generations. Will Sony pull it off? We think so. Here's why the PlayStation 3 will assume the PS2's throne in the next few years...
Let's face it; Sony's seen better days. The company's turnaround plan hasn't been going quite as smoothly as they'd hoped, they've been forced to recall thousands of laptop batteries, they've significantly downsized their PlayStation 3 launch quantities and delayed the launch altogether in Europe, and their net profit forecast for the current fiscal year was recently slashed by almost 40%. In fact, in their most recent quarter, profits plunged 94%.
But you know what? Despite these setbacks and all the negative press the company has garnered over the last six or so months, when it's all said and done the PlayStation 3 will be No.1 worldwide, although not as dominant as the PS2 has been.
Here are five reasons why we believe Sony will stay on top in the console race:
Go up to any random person on the street and ask them to name a video game system. Odds are that the vast majority of the time the individual will respond with "PlayStation" or "PlayStation 2." In the late '80s and early '90s Nintendo was king, but on today's market there is no brand more synonymous with the world of video games than PlayStation. It's true that Microsoft has made great strides in this area with the Xbox and now Xbox 360, but on a pure mindshare basis Xbox still can't compare.
"Rather than bolting the door shut, Microsoft has left it slightly ajar, just waiting for Sony to slam it wide open."
Sony is well aware of the power of its brand and it will do everything it can to leverage the PlayStation name. Providing backwards compatibility with both the PS1 and PS2, as well as offering full PS1 titles for download through the PS3, can only help to reinforce that brand and remind gamers of the PlayStation games they hold so dear.
Selling over 100 million units, twice, has its advantages. In fact, there are a number of people who have probably owned nothing but PlayStation consoles, and those consumers are likely to stick with a brand they know and trust. Before they've even learned anything about Sony's new console, many consumers have already made up their minds that they want the next PlayStation no matter what. A strong brand should not be underestimated.
Microsoft (somewhat) Squandered its Lead
Prior to the 360's launch, all we heard about was how Microsoft didn't want to be beat to market. They wanted to get all the time they could to convince consumers to buy into their "HD Era" before Sony unleashed its PlayStation 3. Well, now it's almost a year later and is Microsoft really that far ahead? According to NPD data, Microsoft sold around 2.7 million units in the U.S through September. MS' figures indicate that the company sold 5 million units worldwide through June, and just yesterday they revealed that they had reached the 6 million units mark.
That said, some analysts believe the 360 is tracking below market expectations. There's certainly no guarantee that MS will hit its goal of 10 million units sold by the end of 2006, even if Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell remains "confident".
The fact of the matter is that although there have been many truly solid 360 offerings (GRAW, PGR3, Call of Duty 2, to name a few) there have been basically no "killer apps," except for perhaps Bethesda's Oblivion. And guess what? That'll be a PS3 launch title—so much for that advantage. If Microsoft really wanted to run away with the lead they would have needed Halo 3 to be released within the first four to six months of launch, or at the very least a near-Halo category title like Gears of War.
When the PS2, a six-year-old console, outsells your next-gen hardware month after month—which has been the case in recent months—something is not right. And according to Deutsche Bank analyst Jeetil Patel, the Xbox 360 continues to underperform the original Xbox at the same stage of its life. Rather than bolting the door shut, Microsoft has left it slightly ajar, just waiting for Sony to slam it wide open.
Japan is Ripe for the Taking
Let's not forget that this is a global market. Sure, Microsoft can do just fine with North America and Europe, but in order to win on a worldwide basis, all three of the major territories become quite important. The original Xbox was an outright failure in Japan, and despite Microsoft's renewed efforts in the country the Xbox 360 is simply continuing the struggle. The company has tried to make itself more attractive to Japanese gamers by courting developers who can make games that appeal to Japanese tastes, but those games were needed much sooner in order to make some headway in a market dominated by Nintendo and Sony.
Early reports suggest that pre-orders for Blue Dragon and related bundles are selling out, but will that be enough to stand up against the introductions of both the Wii and the PlayStation 3 this year? Yes, there will only be 100,000 PS3 units available on day one in Japan, but recent consumer surveys indicate an increasing interest in Sony's next-gen console as its launch approaches. What it comes down to is that the PS3 will have the content Japanese gamers (and plenty of Western gamers) want—Metal Gear Solid 4, Final Fantasy XIII, Virtua Fighter 5, Devil May Cry 4, Gran Turismo, etc.
And if the incredible success of the Nintendo DS is any example, the Japanese seem ready to embrace alternate control methods and unique gameplay. The Wii's innovative controls, cheaper price, and valuable catalog of IP could potentially lead to sales on the level of the DS in the land of the rising sun. Ultimately, Japanese gamers are far more likely to flock to either the Wii or PS3 than some American-made system.
Blu-ray Will Matter
No, we're not talking about Blu-ray as a next-gen movie format. The worst case scenario for Sony is that Blu-ray will fail as a movie format, HD DVD will be crowned the successor to DVD, and Sony will be left with a proprietary game disc format. And while that would certainly hurt them as a company, it wouldn't take away the fact that Blu-ray provides PS3 developers with much more storage space. Microsoft can tout highly advanced compression techniques all they want, but the extra space on the Blu-ray discs affords developers the opportunity to make their games more expansive and more detailed without having to worry about whether it will fit. Of course, if the best case scenario occurs, and Blu-ray beats out HD DVD, then the PS3 will get the added boost of being the first viable hi-def movie player for many consumers, just as the PS2 introduced DVD to many for the first time.
Sure some of this is hype, and maybe we're falling for it, but certain PS3 launch games (e.g. Resistance: Fall of Man) already look as good as the best Xbox 360 has to offer. In one to two years, we think the combination of the Blu-ray medium and the Cell processor will lead to a noticeable difference between the visuals of the PS3 and the Xbox 360, as developers begin to really harness the technology in the PS3. And by that time the PS3 won't be retailing for $500 or $600 anymore. Nintendo may not care about hi-def graphics, but in the ultra-tech battle between Microsoft and Sony, it's beginning to look like Sony has the edge.
In the next five years and beyond, online is going to take on much greater importance, not only in terms of online gameplay, but also as a way of downloading games, extra content, and episodic material. Judging by the company's recent Gamer's Day announcements, this appears to be one area that Sony is prepared to make great strides in. PS2 online, despite Sony's arguments to the contrary, hasn't been a great experience. Xbox Live, on the other hand, continues to be a fantastic experience. Microsoft's certainly got the online advantage for now, but the Redmond giant has a weakness that Sony can and will exploit—the company, as far as we know, has no plans to make its Xbox Live Gold service free of charge. Moreover, it now appears that free, Silver-level Xbox Live membership doesn't always entitle you to free content at the same time that Gold members can access it. Meanwhile, the PS3 will offer full online gaming and other online features completely free from day one.
Yes, the argument can be made that for the price of the PS3 gamers should be entitled to free online gaming, but we think this is a great move on Sony's part nevertheless. With the inclusion of free online play, publishers know that anybody in the PS3's install base can go online. Not only does that automatically encourage developers to make use of online functionality, but it also could have important ramifications with regards to in-game ads that are streamed online. All of a sudden the potential audience for these ads is that much bigger, while on the 360 publishers of online titles with streamed in-game ads will still be limited to the number of Xbox Live Gold subscribers. Ultimately, we think that Microsoft will have no choice but to go free as well (perhaps with some ad-supported scheme with the help of MS-owned Massive Inc.), even if it's not for another couple years.
New console launches are often some of the most exciting periods to witness in the video game industry and we can't wait to watch it all unfold. This industry is poised for some tremendous growth in the years ahead, but we still believe it'll be Sony that'll maintain a leadership position and will lead the charge forward.
We don't expect Sony to dominate the way it did with the PS2. Certainly the first six to twelve months could be rough going for the PS3 as Sony deals with ramping up its manufacturing, but at the end of the day Sony will have done the "impossible" by winning three console generations in a row.
The latest issue of Famitsu PS2 has a short Q&A session with Hori, maker of some of the finest officially-licensed PlayStation 2 peripherals. The biggest bit from the interview concerns a piece of technology that's missing from Sony's new Sixaxis controller: rumble.
Asked if Hori was considering a peripheral to give PS3 players the gift of shake, the representative stated, "We have some ideas. However, we'd need cooperation from software makers".
Let's hope some third parties are willing to make their games compatible with a non-standard rumble accessory.
Hori has three PS3 related items due for release at the Japanese launch. A multi card reader/writer, compatible with Memory Stick, SD, Compact Flash and a variety of other cards, will retail for 2,604 yen. Hori will also release a set of SD cards in 256 MB (2,880 yen), 512 MB (3,980 yen) and 1 Gigabyte (6,780 yen) flavors.
None of these products are strictly for the PS3 -- in fact, they don't even contain the PS3 logo. But Hori is a big player in the peripheral business, so we expect true peripherals to appear in the not-so-distant future. And hopefully, some of them will bring rumble back to PlayStation gaming.
Friday, October 27, 2006
The hard media has been known for some time, but here's the full list:
Super Audio CD
The PS3 will also allow you to access a variety of media file formats from the video, music and photo menus of the Cross Media Bar. We're assuming these files can be stored anywhere, including the hard disk and memory cards.
ATRAC (.oma .msa .aa3)
AAC (.3gp .mp4)
Announced back in June, the HDMI 1.3 format apparently more than doubles HDMI's bandwidth and adds support for a broader color space, new digital audio formats, automatic audio/video synching capability, and an optional smaller connector for use with portable devices such as digital still cameras and camcorders. So why should gamers care? The first HDMI 1.3 machine on the market will be PlayStation 3 in November.
In December we'll see an HD-DVD player from Toshiba and a 1080p projector from Epson that uses the new technology. But HDMI backers expect the format to expand throughout 2007.
"Reports from manufacturers indicate that most Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD players, and a substantial proportion of conventional DVD players, will include HDMI 1.3 capabilities in 2007," said Leslie Chard, president of HDMI Licensing. "During the first half of 2007 we expect to see HDTVs with HDMI 1.3 functionality, allowing them to display Deep Color content. We also expect the introduction during 2007 of HDMI 1.3 technology for PCs, audio-visual receivers and a range of other source and display devices".
The HDMI group is touting "Deep Color" technology of the new format, claiming it increases the number of colors onscreen from millions to billions, increases contrast ratio, and smoothes out gradations between colors.
HDMI 1.3 also supports Dolby TrueHD, which is a 100% lossless audio format. Its compression capabilities take up less resources than other audio formats to allow for more video and audio punch and more special features on a disc without compromising audio quality.
As great as all of this sounds, it's probably going to tough for the average consumer to tell the difference with Sony's HDMI upgrade. But at least they're staying true to their credo of forward looking technology in the PS3.
What more can be said about this Playstation 3 advertisement? A horrible, dead-eyed baby doll with its eyelids cut off and possessed by the souls of a thousand Chuckies screeches with the horrifying falsetto of Eraserhead's reptilian infant. Then its eyes begin to bleed... backwards.
It seems what the advertisement is saying is that the PS3 will cause your toys to come to life. Upon becoming sentient, these toys will go into the kitchen and remove a knife from the drawer. It will then creep to the bedroom where you're sleeping and, before you can wake, it will blind you, deafen you and cut out your tongue. The next hours will be spent cutting away wet pieces of you and you will experience it all in a black world sensationless but for your own terror and agony. Buy a PS3.
Do you live in the US or Japan? Are you an avid gaming fan? Are you excited about getting your hands on a PS3?
If the answers are yes to these questions, then you might be able to help us.
The long awaited PS3 will be going on sale on 11 November in Japan and 17 November in the US.
Can the PS3 beat the acclaimed Xbox360? Have the reports of problems and delays damaged the brand? Can the console ever live up to the hype?
We are looking for two US and two Japanese gamers who will have a PS3 on launch day to help us to answer these questions.
As part of our launch coverage, we want you to write us a series of short pieces for the site about:
- the run-up to launch day.
- how you feel as the launch-hour nears.
- and, once you've finally got hold of your PS3, whether playing it actually lives up to your expectations.
If you fit the criteria and want to be part of our coverage, send 150 words on why gaming is so important to you, and why you are excited about the PlayStation 3 launch.
Sony Computer Entertainment America(SCEA) announcemed today that it will sponsor the Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans, Louisiana. The eighth-annual edition of the event will take place from October 28 - 29 in City Park with acts such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Duran Duran,Wu-Tang Clan, The Flaming Lips and more. Of greater import to gamers is the "PlayStation Experience," which will be a huge truck featuring playable PS2, PSP, and yes, PS3 games.
"The Voodoo Music Experience is the perfect match for our audience, and we're thrilled to once again return to New Orleans," says Sharon Shapiro, senior director of promotions and sports marketing, SCEA. "This year's show features the debut of our new 'PlayStation Experience' truck featuring PS3. Not only will this event be the first stop on its national tour, but it also marks the first chance for many consumers to see, touch, play, and enjoy PS3 before it launches on November 17".
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Many analysts and industry insiders have expressed doubts in Sony's ability to reach the goal, especially given recent shipment cuts that brought the number of worldwide units expected in retail by the end of December to two million units. Recently, Famitsu publisher Enterbrain issued a prediction that Sony would be able to sell just 4.13 million PS3 units by the end of the fiscal term.
Sony plans to make available the following new, downloadable PlayStation 3 games in 2006: Blast Factor, flOw, Lemmings, Kazuo, Puzzle and Mainichi Issho. A few of these were revealed by Sony at last week's press event, but we managed to get some details on the new Japanese content.
Kazuo is a number puzzle game that has also been released for the PSP. The PS3 version includes the 1000 problems of the PSP version but adds flashy PS3 visuals. The game will be distributed in separate packs based on the mode of play: easy, normal, hard, extreme and multiplayer. Sony is also planning a number of future downloadable elements for the game.
Puzzle (this is just a tentative name) is a Sony Computer Entertainment Europe developed puzzle game with three puzzles based around exploding blocks. Modes of play include timed puzzle mode and time attack.
Mainichi Issho, whose name translates to "Every Day Together," ought to remind you of Sony's Doko Demo Issho, a communication game featuring the company's Toro mascot cat character. Sure enough, Toro and friends are the main characters in this communication title, which delivers online content to you every day. The game will initially ship with the "Toro Station" mode, where Toro and friends share new information with you on a daily basis (we're not sure what this "information" is just yet). Sony will provide updates in the future adding stations for item and simple game distribution.
All the above content comes from Sony Computer Entertainment Japan, and all will have free demos available for download. Mainichi Issho is the exception, as the full title will be available for free download. Sony hasn't announced pricing for the full versions of the other games. Blast Factor and Mainichi Issho will be available on 11/11, with the other titles to folllow by the end of 2006.
Sony will also be making PlayStation 3 demos available via the PlayStation store. So far, it has announced just one, a demo of Ridge Racer 7. This trial version of the Bandai Namco Games launch title will be available on 11/11.
Downloadable original generation PlayStation games will be available starting late November. Included are some mega hits that should be familiar to any PlayStation gamer:
- Resident Evil Director's Cut (Capcom)
- Konami Antiques MSX Collection Vol.1 (Konami)
- Konami Antiques MSX Collection Vol.2 (Konami)
- Bishi Bashi Special (Konami)
- Arc the Lad (SCEJ)
- Jumping Flash (SCEJ)
- Minna no Golf 2 (aka Hot Shots Golf 2, SCEJ)
- Silent Bomber (Bandai Namco)
- Tekken 2 (Bandai Namco)
- Mister Driller (Bandai Namco)
These games will initially be playable only on the PlayStation Portable. Sony plans on adding 10 titles per month to the service. Pricing was not announced today.
The PlayStation Store will also, as previously announced, stock downloadable items. Sony plans on making PS3 and PSP items available for download following the release of games. Specifics were not announced.
Sony also refrained from sharing too much on its video and music download plans. The company will start video downloads off with game and movie promotional videos.
Finally, Sony gave out a couple of new details on the community features that the PS3 will offer out of the box. Once you've logged into the PlayStation Network section of the Cross Media Bar, you'll be able to send text messages with attachments to the people in your friend list. You'll also be able to engage in voice and audio chat by accessing the Cross Media Bar's AV Chat option.
The official in-game soundtrack to Full Auto 2: Battlelines has been unveiled.
Pseudo Interactive, the developers of the game, have taken licensed music and implemented it in such a way that each main rival that players battle against will have a dedicated song. Not only that, but each dedicated song will become increasingly louder the closer players get to their rival.
Kudos to PI, since every good gamer knows that you can't kick a$$ without a blisteringly ear-splitting soundtrack. To this end they've shored up contributions from the likes of Megadeath, Stone Sour, Wolfmother, and more heavy hitters.
Full Auto 2: Battlelines In-Game Soundtrack Track Listing:
We Are Scientists - "Callbacks"
Stone Sour - "30 30 150"
The Exies - "Slow Drain"
Megadeth - "Symphony of Destruction"
Living End - "Carry Me Home"
Methods of Mayhem - "Crash"
Wolfmother - "Colossal"
Sum 41 - "No Reason"
The Used - "Take It Away"
Stretch Arm Strong - "The Hardest Part"
Strung Out - "Analog"
Despite a release set for less than a month from now, numerous questions linger about the PlayStation 3. In the latest issue of Famitsu, Sony's Izumi Kawanishi, the guy in charge of the development of both the PS3 and the PSP hardware, cleared up a few of our concerns and also hinted at big things to come in the future.
The biggest revelation from Kawanishi concerns the connectivity options Sony has planned for the PSP and PS3. It's already known that you'll be able to use your PSP as a remote viewer for your PS3's media content. At launch, the two systems will have to be within direct ad-hoc connection range of one-another, but following launch, Sony plans to extend the functionality across the internet.
Kawanishi revealed to Famitsu that Sony's plans go beyond just media viewing, though. In the future, Sony hopes to allow players to play PS3 games remotely via the PSP. While Kawanishi didn't get into specifics, we imagine the PSP being used just to display game footage sent to it by the PS3 and send back controller data input by the player.
This type of connectivity has apparently been on the cards for some time. Kawanishi noted that he had such a system in mind when making the PSP's aspect ratio identical to that of high definition televisions, 16x9.
In other parts of the interview, Kawanishi tackled a few lingering issues.
First up, a caveat to PSP connectivity. The Famitsu article warns that you'll be able to use the PSP as a remote media player only if you purchase the 60 Gig PS3 model, which has Wi-Fi built in. It's unclear if the same functionality can be achieved by connecting your 20 Gig model to a USB Wi-Fi socket or by hooking it up directly to a wireless router. We'll be sure and run some tests once (if?) we get a system at launch.
Kawanishi also commented on region free software. This feature, which has been confirmed by various Sony reps in the past, is indeed a reality. "It's often been the case that past game systems would have a region code system, and would not play overseas games," explained Kawanishi. "However, PlayStation 3 game software does not have this region code. In other words, if you can get your hands on overseas software, you can play as is. There are exceptions, however, so SCE does not make guarantees about operation".
Finally, some details on how you'll be updating your PS3's system software. Kawanishi revealed that, in addition to updating via the internet, Sony plans on letting users update via flash memory (presumably by downloading update files to a memory card) and via game and media software. These two latter options sound similar to Sony's current policy of forced PSP system software updates.
Cnet - I'm standing in a room full of gamers in what must certainly feel to some like heaven: Sony's PS3 prelaunch press event.
From the street, it's not clear why such an event would matter, but inside, on two floors filled almost literally to the rafters with high-definition TVs and PS3s, it's obvious that this is the centre of the video game universe today. And that's borne out by the fact that nearly every important American video game journalist is on hand.
Earlier in the afternoon, the 200 to 300 reporters, analysts and video game industry professionals in attendance sat for an hour-plus press conference in which Sony unveiled the PS3 launch titles lineup, as well as information about the next-generation console's peripherals, online and networked functions and more.
But now, everyone has moved to two levels above for hours of video game play, cocktails and light snacks. And for anyone who has wanted to try out the PS3, this is the best chance they'll get before the November 11 Japanese or November 17 North American launch of the much-anticipated console. Australians, unfortunately, will have to wait until March 2007 before the console gets a local release.
This event, by the way, is being held at Dogpatch Studios, an increasingly popular events venue. I know that, in part, because Microsoft held an invite-only reporter's showcase for the X360 here last year in advance of that console's launch. And in talking with Sony PR folks, I'm not sure they were aware of that. It doesn't seem like they would want to convey the message that they're following Microsoft.
Some details on the machinery: There are two versions of the PS3, both of which come with Bluetooth wireless functions and a Blu-Ray drive for high-definition video. The low-end version, which has a 20GB hard drive, is priced at AU$829.95, while the high-end console swaps in a 60GB hard drive and adds Wi-Fi capabilities for a price of AU$999.95.
PS3 players who don't want to do their gaming in isolation will be able to use the PlayStation Network to indulge in multiplayer games and chat with other players. They'll also be able to download games, surf the Web, view photos and video, and listen to music.
Last week's event, meanwhile, is a chance to compare the PS3 to Nintendo's Wii, which I tried out last week and Microsoft's Xbox 360. It's a bit of a challenge, since I'm not a hard-core gamer and many of the games that Sony and its publisher partners have brought together here are aimed at those who are nearly certain to be in line to buy a PS3 at 12:01 a.m. on launch day and who will no doubt be buying as many of the well-reviewed games as they can afford.
Still, I'm attracted by a healthy number of the games in the room, even if I can't actually get close enough to play them all. That's because there are so many people in the room -- which is small, and therefore overly crowded -- that there seem to be at least three people for every available console.
Finally, though, I get to a console loaded with Sony's own basketball game, NBA 07.
I'm excited to try this because I do like sports games, and because I'm eager to give the PS3's motion-sensitive controller a road test. After all, that was the feature I liked best about the Wii: A controller that removes some of the guess work by tying on-screen movement to the way you actually move your controller. On the Wii, it's a snap to learn, and as someone who has had trouble with the complex controllers of other consoles, motion-sensation is a real gift.
I'm certain I'm not the only one, of course, since the whole reason Nintendo and Sony have included this feature in their controllers is to give gamers an easier time. Plus, it's pretty cool to be able to control things simply by moving your hands, something that is a heck of a lot easier and intuitive than thumbing a joystick.
I start to play NBA 07 and promptly get my head kicked in by the computer's Golden State Warriors team. But it's not as bad as it seems. For the first few minutes, my Seattle Supersonics team is playing the computer close. I hit about five straight baskets and I feel like I'm getting the hang of the controller and the game itself.
Rally games have been popular for years, and the Colin McRae titles have a reputation for being the cream of the crop. So after a 2 year rest the man is back with a new PS3 title. Some of the nice new touches we’ve seen before in other games - the 3D people in the crowd, for example, have been used in Project Gotham Racing 3 on the Xbox 360. But it’s still a nice touch. In fact given that this is a rally game, and so you will be racing solo against the clock for much of the time, it’s even more important to make the rest of the screen interesting.
The car graphics look lovely, and the damage model looks like providing a satisfying crunch when that tree jumps out of nowhere right in front of you. Take a look at these gorgeous screenshots.
Sony executives apologized Tuesday for inconvenience caused by a massive global recall in laptop batteries, but said the problems were now fixed and that none of the company's top leaders would resign over the incident.
The embarrassing spate of battery recalls that is threatening to tarnish the once impeccable Sony brand power is coming at a time when Sony has been struggling to turn around its core electronics business.
It could hurt the Japanese electronics and entertainment company's sales during the critical year-end shopping season. For some, Sony's woes have shaken this nation's confidence in its long prized manufacturing prowess.
Sony slashed its profit forecasts last week, citing the battery recall as well as price cuts in Japan for the next-generation PS3 video game console. Sony expects an 80 billion yen ($673 million) profit for the fiscal year through March 2007, down 38 percent from its projection in July.
John Yang, equity analyst with Standard & Poor's in Tokyo, said the recall problem is unlikely to devastate Sony's battery operations because only a handful of major companies compete in that business.
'It's definitely making a dent in Sony's image,' he said. 'But if Sony does well with games and LCD TV's, Sony still has a chance to come back as one of the major players'.
Sony Corp. said improvements in production, design and inspection have been made to prevent a recurrence of any laptop overheating problems. Company officials said the problems were caused by microscopic metal particles that mistakenly got inside the battery, causing short-circuiting.
Sony said last week that about 9.6 million lithium-ion batteries, manufactured between August 2003 through February this year, are being recalled worldwide after reports of some computers using the Sony battery packs overheating and bursting into flames.
Top management, including Chief Executive Howard Stringer and President Ryoji Chubachi, would stay on at the company and make the successful completion of the recall a priority, Sony officials said.
We would like to take this opportunity to apologize for the worries,' Sony Corporate Executive Officer Yutaka Nakagawa said, bowing slightly with two other executives at a news conference at a Tokyo hotel.
There would be no move to drop or curtail the company's laptop battery production, the company said.
The executives were seated while they bowed and did not bow deeply standing as most Japanese executives generally do in public apologies for troubles at their companies, underlining how Sony has been reluctant to admit fault in the troubles with its laptop batteries.
Sony has maintained that the short-circuiting happens only very rarely and only in certain ways that the battery is connected in a system with laptop models, or if the laptop is used improperly and gets bumped around.
Sony officials said Tuesday that only one overheating problem was confirmed among 3.5 million batteries, although they declined to comment on problems reported by other laptop makers.
They said the batteries are safe and the replacement program is for putting consumer worries at rest.
'This is not a safety issue,' said Naofumi Hara, a Sony spokesman. 'This is about addressing a people's concerns which have become a social problem, and we made the managerial decision that the recall was necessary'.
But laptop makers, including Dell Inc., have blamed Sony batteries, and Japanese rival Toshiba Corp. has said it may sue Sony for compensation for damage to its brand image.
Toshiba raised the number of recalled Sony batteries Tuesday to 870,000, instead of the 830,000 announced last month.
'We want to put this behind us,' Nakagawa said. 'I take this problem seriously and I want to finish the replacement program as quickly as possible for the sake of our users and corporate customers'.
Overnight a voluntary recall of 340,000 laptop batteries made by Sony Corp. was announced in the United States. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, the government's consumer-watchdog agency, issued the formal recall notice for U.S. consumers.
The batteries, some of them in the Vaio brand laptop computers manufactured by Sony, could catch fire, the CPSC said.
Sony is replacing the batteries free of charge in the recall that is affecting almost every major laptop manufacturer in the world, including Dell Inc., Apple Computer Inc., Lenovo Group, Toshiba Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd.
The replacement program, which Sony started last month after major computer makers announced recalls of Sony-made batteries, will cover about 3.5 million units excluding batteries previously recalled by Dell, Apple and Lenovo, Sony said in a statement.
About 9.6 million batteries will be recalled worldwide, including the estimated numbers for those three companies, the statement said, leaving unchanged a projection Sony made last Thursday.
Sony also left unchanged its estimate that the lithium-ion battery recalls will boost its costs by 51 billion yen ($427 million) in the July-September period. Sony's statement such costs may grow.
Sony shares, which have dipped by about 40 percent over the last five years, gained 1.3 percent to close at 4,830 yen ($40) in Tokyo.
The code that prevents music downloaded from Apple's iTunes store being played on any portable player other than an iPod has been "cracked".
Apple has not commented on claims that Jon Lech Johansen has "reverse engineered" the FairPlay system.
Prominent hacker Mr Johansen has made a name circumventing software used to restrict the use of digital media.
His company, DoubleTwist, said that it planned to license the code to other digital music player manufacturers.
"There's a certain amount of trouble that Apple can give us, but not enough to stop this," Monique Farantzos, managing director at DoubleTwist told Associated Press.
"We believe we're on good legal ground, and our attorneys have given us the green light on this."
Mr Johansen first distributed a program to bypass the Apple system, called QTFairUse, in 2003.
Since then several versions of the program have been distributed to keep up to date with new versions of iTunes and FairPlay.
These were distributed on the web for free but were difficult to use without technical know-how.
Now, Mr Johansen and DoubleTwist plan to commercialise the technology.
At the moment iTunes controls 88% of the legal music download market, while 60% of those possessing a portable music player own an iPod.
All music sold through iTunes uses the FairPlay system that restricts the use of the downloads. Purchased music can only be moved between five computers and played on an Apple iPod.
Downloads cannot be transferred to players made by other manufacturers, such as Creative or Sony.
The new "workaround" could help companies like these sell iTunes compatible products that could start to scratch away at the iPod's dominance.
Mr Johansen, also known as DVD Jon, rose to fame at the age of 15 when he wrote and distributed a program called DeCSS that cracked the encryption codes on DVDs.
The free program, posted on the web, was written by Mr Johansen so that he could play his DVDs on a Linux-based computer. Following complaints by the film industry, Norwegian authorities charged Mr Johansen, but he was later acquitted.
The courts ruled that he had a right to decode the DVD.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
One video named "Capacity" explains a bit about Blue Ray technology while another named "Smarter" tells a bit about the PS3's processors. While both amount to being advertising more than Discovery Channel material they are interesting. Especially seeing as both make you feel like you're watching a car ad in the Matrix.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
In a statement issued to GamesIndustry.biz, Sony has denied any responsibility for the closure of Lik-Sang - accusing the online retailer of "sour grapes".
The statement begins by observing that Sony Computer Entertainment has successfully sued Pacific Game Technology, which uses Lik-Sang as one of its trading names, for infringing intellectual property rights.
"Lik-Sang did not contest this case (i.e. they did not turn up and therefore incurred no legal costs). We have been awarded substantial costs against Lik-Sang which have not been paid," the statement claims.
"We would therefore strongly deny that our actions have had anything to do with this wesite closing (we assume the legal entity is still trading), and would suggest that this release is sour grapes on behalf of Lik-Sang which is aimed to belittle Sony Computer Entertainment and the British judicial system that found against them".
Earlier today, Lik-Sang announced it was going out of business, citing a series of lawsuits filed by Sony as the reason for the closure. The retailer also alleged that several SCE executives purchased import PSP hardware and software on its website.
Sony responded, "The purchasing of PSP consoles by SCE employees would be for investigatory purposes. We would also like to express our surprise at a company releasing personal information about its consumers, as this is contrary to data protection principles around the world".
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - OUT OF BUSINESS NOTICE
Hong Kong, October 24th of 2006 - Lik-Sang.com, the popular gaming retailer from Hong Kong, has today announced that it is forced to close down due to multiple legal actions brought against it by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Sony claimed that Lik-Sang infringed its trade marks, copyright and registered design rights by selling Sony PSP consoles from Asia to European customers, and have recently obtained a judgment in the High Court of London (England) rendering Lik-Sang's sales of PSP consoles unlawful.
As of today, Lik-Sang.com will not be in the position to accept any new orders and will cancel and refund all existing orders that have already been placed. Furthermore, Lik-Sang is working closely with banks and PayPal to refund any store credits held by the company, and the customer support department is taking care of any open transactions such as pending RMAs or repairs and shipping related matters. The staff of Lik-Sang will make sure that nobody will get hurt in the crossfire of this ordeal.
A Sony spokesperson declined to comment directly on the lawsuit against Lik-Sang, but recently went on to tell Gamesindustry.biz that "ultimately, we're trying to protect consumers from being sold hardware that does not conform to strict EU or UK consumer safety standards, due to voltage supply differences et cetera; is not - in PS3's case - backwards compatible with either PS1 or PS2 software; will not play European Blu-Ray movies or DVDs; and will not be covered by warranty".
Lik Sang strongly disagrees with Sony's opinion that their customers need this kind of protection and pointed out that PSP consoles shipped from Lik-Sang contained genuine Sony 100V-240V AC Adapters that carry CE and other safety marks and are compatible world wide. All PSP consoles were in conformity with all EU and UK consumer safety regulations.
Furthermore, Sony have failed to disclose to the London High Court that not only the world wide gaming community in more than 100 countries relied on Lik-Sang for their gaming needs, but also Sony Europe's very own top directors repeatedly got their Sony PSP hard or software imports in nicely packed Lik-Sang parcels with free Lik-Sang Mugs or Lik-Sang Badge Holders, starting just two days after Japan's official release, as early as 14th of December 2004 (more than nine months earlier than the legal action). The list of PSP related Sony Europe orders reads like the who's who of the videogames industry, and includes Ray Maguire (Managing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Alan Duncan (UK Marketing Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Chris Sorrell (Creative Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Ltd), Rob Parkin (Development Director, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited), just to name a few.
"Today is Sony Europe victory about PSP, tomorrow is Sony Europe’s ongoing pressure about PlayStation 3. With this precedent set, next week could already be the stage for complaints from Sony America about the same thing, or from other console manufacturers about other consoles to other regions, or even from any publisher about any specific software title to any country they don’t see fit. It’s the beginning of the end... of the World as we know it", stated Pascal Clarysse, formerly known as the Marketing Manager of Lik-Sang.com.
"Blame it on Sony. That's the latest dark spot in their shameful track record as gaming industry leader. The Empire finally 'won', few dominating retailers from the UK probably will rejoice the news, but everybody else in the gaming world lost something today".
Games bought through the PlayStation Store will be able to run on five-or-fewer systems.
Of course, if you own more than five systems, you can probably afford to pay for the game again on the sixth. (Hah, we kid; you didn't get so rich by wasting money on a game you already bought). The important application for the five-or-less rule is that you can log in to the PlayStation Store at a friend's house and re-download a game for free.
When you leave your friend's house, Sony says that you can leave the game there. If the title is an online multiplayer game, only one of you can use it at a time. But if it's an offline game, we were told that the multiple systems can continue to play it.
Sounds like you and your four best friends may be splitting PS3 game downloads.
Adult Swim is about to unroll an innovative co-branded promotion developed around the anticipated Nov. 17 release of PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system, featuring the built-in Blu-ray Disc drive, and the hilarious late night original series Robot Chicken. The initiative extends to Adult Swim’s broadband destination Adult Swim Fix, Adult Swim Video-on-Demand, adultswim.com, on-air and a national consumer contest that provides the chance for one viewer to have the show’s creators write them into a third season episode of Robot Chicken running in 2007 and win the highly anticipated PS3.
“One of the biggest assets of our show is the guest appearances,” said Robot Chicken co-creator, writer, director, and co-executive producer Seth Green. “It’s great that we are going to be able to give a fan the complete Robot Chicken treatment".
“This is one of the most innovative and on-brand promotions we’ve created around Adult Swim programming,” said John O’Hara, senior vice president and general sales manager of Adult Swim and Cartoon Network Ad Sales and Marketing. “Robot Chicken is an ideal companion to PlayStation 3 system’s awareness campaign, as one of the top programs reaching men and adults 18-24 and 18-34".
“This custom PlayStation promotion was designed to reach consumers on every level of interaction with Adult Swim’s brand,” said Phyllis Ehrlich, senior vice president, Adult Swim and Cartoon Network Promotions Marketing. “We are also encouraging interaction between the brands by driving viewers to the What Would You Do to be on Robot Chicken and Win a PlayStation3? Contest, the ultimate viewer opportunity".
Starting Oct. 23, adultswim.com will premiere the PlayStation 3 micro site, featuring streaming video, PlayStation 3 new product features, branded links to www.us.playstation.com, and most importantly, point-of-entry for the What Would You Do to be on Robot Chicken and Win a PlayStation3? Contest. Fans will be asked to submit a comedic home video of what they would do to win a role on Robot Chicken and the next generation of entertainment system, PlayStation 3. Secondary prize winners will each receive the PlayStation 3. Adult Swim will create custom on-air messaging driving viewers to the micro site to enter. Following the call for entries period ending on Dec. 31, adultswim.com will refresh the custom micro site to feature the winning entries and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the winner’s action-figure and Robot Chicken sketches.
Running two weeks in November, Adult Swim Fix, the broadband extension to the wildly popular online destination adultswim.com, will feature contest messaging and PlayStation 3 advertising creative before the start of each featured program. Launched on March 27, 2006, Adult Swim Fix offers viewers free access to full-length programming 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Each week, Adult Swim Fix features seven episodes from the network’s original comedies and some select anime titles. PlayStation 3 creative will also run on Adult Swim’s Video-on-Demand service.
Robot Chicken, from actor/producer Seth Green and Matthew Senreich, uses stop-motion animation to bring pop-culture parodies to life in a modern take on the variety/sketch show format. In Robot Chicken, no pop-culture target is safe. Legions of action figures are used to spoof everything from Quentin Tarantino’s blood-spattered epics to The Real World. This ratings success story airs on Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s top-rated late night sister service, and premiered on Feb. 20, 2005. A DVD of the first season, featuring all 20 episodes and behind-the-scenes production footage and loads of other extras, has been a fast-seller since its March 28, 2006 release.
Adult Swim (AdultSwim.com), launched in 2001, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.’s network offering original and acquired animated comedy and action series for young adults. Airing overnights six days a week for a total of 45 hours weekly, Adult Swim shares channel space with Cartoon Network, home to the best in original, classic and acquired programming for children and families, and is seen in 91 million U.S. homes.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and the leading provider of programming for the television industry.
Monday, October 23, 2006
It all started this month when it was deemed too early to have PS3s in eBay. An eBay admin removed all PS3 and Wii pre-order listings on their site, to the disappointment of many sellers.
Now, it seems that eBay has had a sudden change of heart a mere week after the mass listing pull-outs, and many are left to wonder if there would be another about-face anytime soon.
That's right, the people over at eBay have finally made the decision to allow PS3 and Wii pre-orders to be posted on their site, but only if the sellers meet certain conditions. Though those conditions haven't been directly pointed out by the auction site's admin, it has been noticed that many of the allowed listings have the following going for them:
- A Feedback of 50 or more .
- Feedback score must be 98% or above .
- Sellers may only list one system. They may list one PlayStation 3 and one Nintendo Wii with a photo of the pre-order receipt for each system .
- Sellers must accept PayPal as their only payment option .
- Sellers must include a photo of the receipt in the listing .
- Buy It Now will not be allowed .
- One-day listings will not be allowed.
On their policy page however, what eBay DOES specify is that:
The seller must guarantee that the item will be available for shipping within 30 days from the date of purchase (i.e., the day the listing ends or the date the item is purchased from a store front listing). The seller must also clearly indicate within the listing the fact that the item is a pre-sale item with a delivery date that indicates the item will be shipped by the 30th day from the end date of the listing. Additionally, this text must be no less than the default font size of the eBay Sell-Your-Item form. Currently, the default font size is HTML font size 3.
Violations of this policy may result in a range of actions, including:
- Listing cancellation .
- Limits on account privileges.
- Account suspension .
- Forfeit of eBay fees on cancelled listings .
- Loss of PowerSeller status.
Now that eBay has allowed these kinds of listings to be placed on the site for the public to bid on, one speculation on how this happened is that they may have realized the revenue potential that the sales from these pre-orders may generate. After all, eBay does charge listing fees as well as - correct me if I'm mistaken - a small percentage of the final bidding price. Considering that these pre-orders reach past the thousand-dollar mark, we're talking about good money here.
And yes, you heard us right. There are already ongoing auctions for PS3 and Wii pre-orders, which are nearing the TWO-thousand-dollar mark by the hour, as shown in these screenshots that we took just now.Nintendo Wii units, meanwhile, are hovering around the US$ 500 to US$ 700 price range.
On the other hand, considering the fact that scammers are prevalent on online auction sites and their favorite baits are "hot" electronics such as cellphones, gadgets, and laptops, perhaps eBay also does have a good reason to be more cautious in handling this whole next-gen hullabaloo.
So, if you plan to order your console on eBay, just remember to stay safe, follow the safety guidelines, and if it's too good to be true, then it most probably is.Source
Sony has said that it will use the "full scope of the law" to block the import of PS3s into Europe before the console's official release date in the territory.
The news follows last week’s ruling by a British judge that Taiwanese import/export company Lik-Sang could not sell the Japanese version of PSP in Europe.
A spokesperson for SCEE told the BBC: “The law is clear, and grey importing PS2, PSP or PS3 into the EU, without the express permission of SCEE, is illegal.
“Therefore, we will utilise the full scope of the law to put a stop to any retailers who chose to do this. Ultimately, we’re trying to protect consumers from being sold hardware that does not conform to strict EU or UK consumer safety standards".
The PS3 is due for European release in March next year. The console goes on sale in Japan on November 11th and the US on November 17th.
Friday, October 20, 2006
CVG made an interesting visit this week to check out the unique wireless motion sensor system 'codename fusion', a multiplatform device from In2Games that allows true motion sensor tracking in a 3D space.
The device works using sound waves and other technical wizardry, and is able to track the precise absolute position and orientation of various wireless accessories, such as golf clubs, tennis racquets, baseball bats and bowling balls.
Comparisons to the Nintendo Wii are inevitable, but after going hands-on with fusion we found that it offers a much more advanced means of control than Nintendo's forthcoming console. Unlike Wii, fusion is able to accurately track movements even when the controller is not pointed directly at the screen, so the precise swing of a club is recreated perfectly.
We were also shown a prototype PS2-style controller that broke in half, allowing you to use the separate pieces to make motion gestures and execute moves on screen. "It's great that the world is waking up to motion sensor gaming," says Elliott Myers, Managing Director, In2Games. "Since we launched the world's first 3D motion-sensing games back in 2004, we've been developing this system for the next generation. Our goal is to allow everyone to enjoy this wholly immersive way of playing games, regardless of which gaming platform they own.
"We've got the best technology, with incredible functionality allowing developers to produce exciting new games specifically for the system - taking advantage of its unique features - or to allow titles which use motion sensing to be published on any platform. It's an exceptional proposition - for the industry and for consumers. We can't wait to begin showing it off".
Fusion connects to consoles using USB, so potentially it could be incorporated in any number of platforms, although for the sports software In2Games says it's currently targeting next-gen consoles. Launch is planned for Q3 2007 and pricing will apparently be "sub-£30".Check out the link below for our exclusive videos to see this truly intriguing tech for yourself.
Fortunately, we managed to edit out the moment when we accidentally hurled the tennis racquet at the screen.
A report on GameRadar.com observed that the pads do not feature removable battery packs, arguing this would render them "effectively useless" as wireless controllers after a certain number of charges.
This, the article claimed, would leave consumers "forced to shell out" for replacements.
But a Sony spokesperson told GI.biz, "This is a purely speculative story and is largely untrue. The latest generation of Lithium Polymer batteries hardly suffer any memory effect at all, so it'll be many years before there's any degradation in terms of battery performance".
The spokesperson went on to confirm, "When and if this happens, then of course we will be providing a service to exchange these items".
A European price point for the pads has yet to be announced, but yesterday SCEA announced they will retail for USD 49.99 (EUR 39). It was also confirmed that PS3 owners will be able to charge and use their controllers via a supplied USB cable.
Here's the lineup:
Genji: Days of the Blade
Resistance: Fall of Man
Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WWII
Call of Duty 3
EA Sports Fight Night Round 3
The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion
Full Auto 2 Battlelines
Madden NFL 07
Marvel Ultimate Alliance
Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire
Untold Legends Dark Kingdom
Ridge Racer 7
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
Sonic the Hedgehog
Need for Speed Carbon
Tony Hawk's Project 8
Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas
We'll be back with more as the conference continues.
Electronic Arts is currently developing more than 30 games for the PlayStation 3, and plans to release eight to ten titles for the new console by late March, the company announced today.
The gaming giant will support the PS3 launch with titles like Madden NFL 07, Need for Speed Carbon, and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07. The company's roster beyond launch includes new entries Skate and Army of Two, as well as franchise returns such as Medal of Honor Airborne, NBA Street, Battlefield: Bad Company, Burnout 5, and Def Jam: Icon.
EA is adapting titles to the PS3's particular features, such as the motion-sensing SIXAXIS controller and the system's powerful Cell processor.
"Each game has been custom designed to leverage the hardware power of the PlayStation 3 and serve as a launch pad for EA's next generation of HD gaming," said EA Studios president Paul Lee. "This is only the beginning. In the months and years to come, developers will take greater advantage of the PlayStation 3's cell processors and blu-ray storage capacity to create games of stunning depth and texture".
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Sony has warned that it will take legal action against anyone engaging in grey importing of its products after scoring a High Court victory over online retailer Lik-Sang.
In his ruling yesterday, Judge Michael Fysh found that Lik-Sang - which offered Japanese PSPs to European consumers via its website - was in breach of intellectual property rights.
Lik-Sang had claimed that it was operating within the law as the company is based in Hong Kong, and has no trading presence in the UK or European Economic Area.
But, as reported by the Financial Times, Judge Fysh ruled that, "The acts of which the complaint is made have, in my view, been perpetrated not in Hong Kong but here in the EEA, and without Sony's consent".
Sony declined to comment directly on the case. However, a spokesperson did tell GI.biz: "The law is clear; grey importing PS2, PSP or PS3 into the EU, without the express permission of SCE is illegal. Therefore, we will utilise the full scope of the law to put a stop to any retailers who chose to do this".
He continued, "Ultimately, we're trying to protect consumers from being sold hardware that does not conform to strict EU or UK consumer safety standards, due to voltage supply differences et cetera; is not - in PS3's case - backwards compatible with either PS1 or PS2 software; will not play European Blu-ray movies or DVD's; and will not be covered by warranty".
It's no surprise that Sony is offering a strong warning against importing PS3's - there's likely to be a high demand for the consoles in Europe, following the announcement that they won't be officially arriving here until four months after they go on sale in the US and Japan.
The company will doubtless be looking to avoid a repeat of the events of last year, where several retailers, including ElectricBirdLand, ended up in court for selling import PSPs.
Leading up to the 11/11 Japanese PS3 release, the Japanese gaming press has taken delivery of PS3 demo units. Included in the lucky bunch is the multimedia division of Impress Watch, whose editorial staff was good enough to put together a feature detailing the PS3's multimedia playback.
We previously described most of the functionality available from the PS3's Cross Media Bar (XMB) interface. Impress offers a few new details. Selecting the "Display Settings" icon from the settings menu gives you access to a menu for chosing your display connection. You can select from "Component or D Cable," "Composite or S-Video," and "AV Multi or SCART." The system displays clear images indicating which plug is which, so beginners shouldn't have too much trouble in getting set up.
The PS3 is capable of selecting resolution for you automatically. However, if you want to select your own resolution, you can chose from 480p, 1080i, 720p, 1080p and "custom." We're not sure what the last one is just yet.
You also have full control over the form of audio that the PS3 outputs. From the Audio Output section of the menu, you can select from Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS 5.1 and AAC, as well as Linear PCM with 2ch, 5.1ch and 7.1ch available in 44.1kHz, 88.2kHz, 48kHz and 192kHz. You can also set this to automatic in case you're not interested in the details. You have three audio cable options available: HDMI, optical and AV Multi.
To set up Blu-Ray playback, you go into the BD/DVD section of the settings menu. Here, you can select the disk's menu language and the default audio and subtitle languages, which isn't anything new if you've used a PSP or one of the Japanese-only PSX systems before.
Good news for those worried about the slow start-up times with current next generation optical disc players. The PS3 loads up a Blu-ray movie fast. Impress sampled the US version of Fifth Element (Japan won't take shipment of its first commercial Blu-ray movies until early November) and found that the PS3 took less than 10 seconds to start up the disc after it had been selected from the video section of the Cross Media Bar.
Incidentally, there seems to be a slight difference between when you insert a game disc and a Blu-ray disc into the PS3. When you put in a Blu-ray disc, you have to select the disc from the video menu in order to begin playback. With game discs, the system automatically starts playback. The Impress article didn't make mention of a menu option for switching automatic playback for game discs off.
Startup as a whole seems to be pretty quick for the PS3. Impress reports that the time from powering up the system to the appearance of the Sony Computer Entertainment logo is about 10 seconds. Following that, it's another 2 to 3 seconds before the XMB appears. You only see the PlayStation logo when playing games.
Impress describes the PS3's Blu-ray playback as "simple." The site reports no problems with pop-up menus and other Blu-ray disc features.
The PS3 is capable of more than just Blu-ray playback. It's also capable of playing back video directly from the hard disk. Impress was able to play a 1920 x 1080 MPEG2 from hard disk. It's unclear at this point if users will be able to play back VC-1 and H.264 encoded files from the hard disk, although these high powered codecs are, of course, playable from Blu-ray discs.
In addition to video playback, Impress was also able to sample the PS3's music features. The system can rip CDs to MP3, AAC and ATRAC3 formats, allowing for bit rates of up to 352 kbps. The PS3 is also capable of going online to read into the AMG music database in order to get track information.
One of the cool things about multimedia playback is that the PS3 can play back external files. By connecting a PSP to the PS3 via USB, the music, movies and images that are on the Memory Stick loaded into the PSP become accessible from the video, music and photo menus on the PS3. It's unclear if this is the case when the two systems are communicating via Wi-Fi.
Impress wasn't able to get details on the mysterious "Remote Play" icon from the XMB menu. It's believed that this option will allow you to enjoy your PS3's movies and music on your PSP. A PSP update is set to coincide with the launch of the PS3, and should make this area a bit clearer.
Another mysterious icon in the PS3 Cross Media Bar is found in the system settings section. The menu has an option labeled "Other System Install," whose function is currently unknown.
These are just a few of the PS3's features that remain in the dark at this point. We hope to get clarification leading up to launch or, at the very latest, once we've sampled retail units for ourselves on 11/11.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
It seems that everyone who hoped to get their hands on Sony's much awaited console is now scrambling to make sure, or at least try, to reserve a unit. The only method is to pre-order.
CheapyD of Cheap Ass Gamer pre-ordered his PS3 from Amazon Japan. His "edge" is knowing Amazon Japan's "1 Click" shopping system that is similar to Amazon USA site. Confident in his familiarity with the site even though it's in Japanese, CheapyD pushed through in preordering his own 60GB PlayStation 3 for 62,980 Yen (US$529, including tax and free shipping) along with a couple of PS3 games like Resistance: Fall of Man and Genji.
He may have successfully pre-ordered the elusive PS3 unit, but it wasn't smooth sailing. When he checked his order history to review his account page, he was greeted with a Japanese message that roughly translates: "There is no excuse".
There was error inside the system. Problem already with the record being completed, is the schedule which in the future advances investigation. We applying annoyance, there is no excuse". Talk about a big disappointment. It seems that online shopping has suddenly become popular to Japanese consumers because of the PS3. So many people tried to get in line to place their PS3 pre-orders at Amazon Japan that it literally flooded the site's order processing. Anyway, it good to know that everything was fixed in time.
Launch titles for the PS3 are already "getting up close" to the 25Gb limit on current Blu-ray discs, according to Sony's worldwide studios boss Phil Harrison, who was responding to criticism of the PS3's adoption of Blu-Ray.
"Already, at our launch titles, we're getting up close to the 25Gb limit that we have on our Blu-ray discs this year," he claimed. "Next year we'll raise that to 50Gb, and I'd expect that we’ll be getting close to that in the fairly near future as well".
Speaking in an interview with GamesIndustry.biz journalist Rob Fahey, Harrison decried suggestions that the Blu-ray drive had been included in the machine purely to push Sony's agenda with regard to Blu-ray movies.
"It's got nothing to do with movies," he responded. "DVD is not sufficient capacity to power the kind of data consumption, or to feed the data consumption needs of Cell and RSX - just purely as a gameplay device, we need Blu-ray to supply the kind of data that PS3 games use."
Harrison also responded to questioning about the claim that the capacity of Blu-ray will be used simply to provide more high definition movie sequences, effectively filling the discs - and games - with non-interactive content.
"It's not just about graphics," he said. "It's about 7.1 audio, it's about speech, it’s about having up to 1080p movies built into the game; it's high res textures, it's animation, it's everything that goes into making a very rich and varied next-gen experience. Partly it's visual, partly it's sound, and partially it'll be down to gameplay benefits as well - more levels, more detail, richer experiences".
However, he also defended the right of developers to include rendered video in their - a key feature of many titles, even on next-generation systems.
"I see nothing wrong with having non-interactive, full HD sequences as part of the game," he said. "That's all part of the production value and the experience that you get when you buy the game. I don't see that as a weakness at all".
The Blu-ray drive in the PS3 has been blamed both for contributing heavily to the cost of the system, and for causing the production delays which ultimately led to the decision to move the European launch back to 2007. Microsoft has accused Sony of taking choice away from consumers by including Blu-ray - the Xbox 360 will have an optional external HD-DVD drive, although this can only be used for movie playback and will not be accessible to game developers.
Meanwhile, some consumers have questioned the value of Blu-ray to videogames, given the ability of developers to fit games on the scale of Xbox 360 and PC title Oblivion onto a single DVD - although it should be noted that Oblivion, despite its scale, is a relatively early next-gen title. Many early titles in the previous generation shipped on CDs, but DVDs were widespread within a year to eighteen months, as developers learned to exploit more of the systems' functionality and streamlined the content creation process.
Harrison acknowledged that some early titles will not make full use of Blu-ray's capacity, but was adamant that the standard will be vital to the PS3 in the coming years. "Not every game is going to fill 25 or 50Gb," he said. "I completely accept that - but there will be games that require that this year, and will push that further in years to come".
Microsoft could barely contain its glee at being able to confirm exclusive downloadable content for next year's Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV - but PS3 fans need not fear, as it seems the Sony release is also firmly in line to receive its very own dazzling additions.
According to a source close to Rockstar North, the team is working on exclusive supplemental content for both systems, which will be made available for download via Microsoft and Sony's respective online services after the game's release next year.
In case you missed it, Microsoft revealed at X06 that Xbox 360 owners will get "exclusive access to two downloadable, epic episodes of GTA IV via Xbox Live, each with hours of entirely new gameplay and available only on Xbox 360 just months after the release of the title".
We're told to expect much the same deal on PS3, except unique to the platform. Interestingly, the downloadable content, our source maintains, will take the form of brand new areas which will link into the main GTA IV game world.
"Think of the world as a large island - the new downloadable areas will be like smaller islands linking into it," the source explained. (Which is a structural analogy, rather than a suggestion that the game is set on an island, we hasten to add).
How many additional areas or episodes Rockstar is planning is anyone's guess at this juncture, but it seems the game is at least being structured to accommodate a number of expansive new content releases in the weeks and months after release, while also satisfying platform holder - and console owner - demand for exclusive material.
Though with 'exclusive' being a somewhat elastic term these days, especially where Grand Theft Auto is concerned, we wouldn't be remotely surprised if you end up playing 'exclusive' 360 episodes on your PS3, and vice versa. One thing's for sure - there's nothing more certain to piss off the fanboys than a level playing field.
No formal response from Rockstar at the time of writing. But, as ever, don't expect official word until they're good and ready.
Grand Theft Auto IV is scheduled to release on Xbox 360 and PS3 in the US on 16th October 2007, with Europe getting hold of it just three days later.
Monday, October 16, 2006
The president of Enterbrain, publisher of Japanese videogame magazine Famitsu, said the PlayStation 3 will have a tough time out of the gate, but will eventually come out on top in the worldwide next-gen console war.
"The PS3 will have a tough time globally at the initial stage. Its launch titles in Japan and exclusive software titles overseas are quite limited," said Enterbrain President Hirokazu Hamamura during a seminar as reported by Reuters
.He added, "But its overwhelmingly realistic graphics will give it a long life span. It will stay competitive even when a game console battle breaks out among a newer generation of machines in 2010. Sales should grow every time Sony cuts prices." He said that the initial high price tag will turn off would-be early adopters.
While Sony aims to ship 6 million PS3s by the end of its fiscal year in March 2007, Hamamura said that he expects Sony to actually sell 4.13 million units by that time. By comparison, he expects Nintendo to sell 5.47 million units in that same period.
Enterbrain expects PS3's sales to hit 34 million worldwide by the end of 2009, Wii sales to reach 25 million and Xbox 360's to reach 28 million in that time frame.
It seems that Bandai Namco's Ridge Racer 7 is heading to Japans's Most Anticipated PS3 Launch Titles chart if GameFront's sources are to be believed. Belonging to the Ridge Racer series, one of the most beloved racing game, Ridge Racer 7 boasts of cool features like hot customizable cars that has a Fast and the Furious style to it, a Ridge State Grand Prix that provides 160 races on 44 courses, breathtaking details of the cars and the environment it'll tread, and lots of surprises like earning new cars and car parts in every race won.
Second in the rumored list of most anticipated Japanese PS3 launch title is Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight. The game takes place in the latter stages of The One Year War where players can choose from a variety of Mobile Suits from Earth Federation or from Principality of Zeon in a multiplayer battle.
Other titles in the list includes From Software's Armored Core 4, Sony's Resistance: Fall of Man and Genjii: Kamui Souran. PS3 3 is expected in Japan on November 11 this year so if we want to verify this rumored list then we should wait for the launch of Sony's much awaited next-gen console.
According to Joystiq, San Jose-based eBay angered traders when it cancelled their PS3 auctions this week, and now it looks like they're cancelling Wii sales too.
We feel your pain, greedy b*stards console-camping entrepreneurs, but we've got to side with eBay on this one. None of the PS3s or Wiis that were preordered earlier this week were guaranteed for November 17th/19th delivery, and history's taught us that no console launch ever goes exactly according to plan.
This launch season looks no different from other launches for Sony. We've all got ample reason to be skeptical of Sony's ability to deliver plenty of the consoles to North America, given delay upon delay that's plagued the difficult-to-manufacture console. (On the other hand, rumor has it that Nintendo's stockpiling millions of its easy-to-manufacture consoles for the holiday season, but that still doesn't guarantee a trouble-free launch. Truckloads of consoles could go missing for instance).
It seems eBay has learned from last year's Xbox 360 launch fiasco in which retail stores that allowed unlimited preorders ultimately delivered far fewer Xbox 360s than customers were expecting. The result? eBay customers paid for items that opportunistic console campers had no chance of delivering in a timely fashion.
Don't hate on eBay. They're just being responsible. If and when you get one of these consoles in your hot little hands, list it then.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
The new Electronic Entertainment Expo will be held July 11-13 2007 in Santa Monica, California. The convention will take place in the Barker Hangar and a number of hotels where only game developers, retailers, and press are allowed in. Some other events that will be held at E3 2007 will include Serious Games showcase and "Into the Pixel" art exhibit.
"By combining suite-based meetings with the software showcase in a controlled and business-like environment, we believe we will successfully fulfill our primary objective of giving high-level media the best of all worlds -- the chance to engage in highly personal, one-on-one dialogue with leading game company executives, as well as the chance to demo games on their own time and to check out offerings from both the best known and emerging game publishers and developers...It will also provide an excellent opportunity for meetings with retailers, developers and other audiences," said ESA president Douglas Lowenstein.
IGN reports that the hotels participating in E3 will be within walking distance of each other and the ESA will provide shuttle services between the Barker Hangar, hotels, and off-site press conferences.
Heads-up, loyal Sony fans! It seems that the company's heading for brighter days, as its stock rose to a whopping 3.7 percent yesterday. Why? We have no idea, but it's good news.
It seems that Sony's rating is now "overweight" than the usual "equal-weight" (according to Morgan Stanley analyst Masahiro Ono's standards), which we think is a good thing. There were several issues that the company faced the last couple of months: there was the PS3 delay, the supposed overheating problem during the TGS, and the usual PS3 bashers. With all the bad publicity, Sony really has "to gain weight" to make up for the 3.6 percent drop they incurred last month.
And gain they did. The 12-month price target was increased from 300 yen to a staggering 5,900 yen (which is around $49). Hmmm... looks like Sony isn't doing as bad as some people think. Hopefully they'll be back on their feet once the PS3 is released.
Page One - The Cover.
Page Two - Analyze the “PLAY B3YOND” slogan.
MiVADiKA.com is making available the flier to anyone that wasn’t lucky enough to attend the event.