Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sony Announces Major Reshuffle.

SCEA boss Kaz Hirai is moving to Tokyo to take on the role of Sony Computer Entertainment president, with Jack Tretton replacing him and Ken Kutaragi set to become SCE chairman.

It's also been announced that David Reeves will take the title of deputy president of SCEI, whilst remaining in his position as CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. The moves are effective from tomorrow.

"Kutaragi will continue to oversee the entire SCE Group as chief executive officer, and will fully exercise his power to reinforce and further accelerate the development of the PlayStation business," Sony said in a statement.

"In his new capacity as President and Group COO of the entire SCE Group, [Hirai] will bring his strong leadership skills and experience to fulfill his responsibilities as head of operations worldwide".

Hirai joined SCEA in 1995 and was responsible for introducing PlayStation, PS2 and PSP to the American market. His replacement, Jack Tretton, was formerly COO and executive vice president at SCEA.

"I am determined to build upon the momentum that Kaz and the entire SCEA staff has developed for the entire PlayStation family of products here in the US over the years," Tretton commented.

"Moving forward, we will remain focused on the continued market leadership of the PlayStation brand, driving consumer demand for the new PS3 and existing platforms such as PSP and PS2".

The reshuffle comes just weeks after PlayStation 3 launched in Japan and North America, under the direction of Ken Kutaragi. The console sold out within hours of hitting the shops in both territories. Sony has pledged to airlift new stocks in on a constant basis, and has yet to release official shipment figures.


Despite PS3 Shortage, EA Meets Forecast.

Electronic Arts CEO Larry Probst announced today that, although Sony shipped fewer PlayStation 3's than he expected, EA's overall holiday sales so far have met or slightly exceeded his expectations. Even though the company's overall sales outlook was positive, the PS3 shortage and the disappointing Superman Returns: The Videogame pushed the company's shares down by almost 2 percent.

Probst said he knew demand for the PS3 would far exceed supply, but he was surprised by how few Sony was able to ship initially. By the end of 2006, he expects Sony will ship between 500,000 and 800,000 units.

Previously expecting its overall sales to be flat to down five percent, sales of Madden and The Sims raised EA's outlook to flat to up five percent.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Killzone PS3 To Have 120 Developers.

Guerilla Games have confirmed that Killzone PS3 will cost more to develop than the most expensive file in Dutch history, Black Book. The movie cost $21 million to develop, and Killzone director Arjan Brussee was quoted on saying, ""Our budget tops Black Book. We're working on the biggest multimedia project in Dutch history".

The high cost for the game is due to the labor invested into the graphically demanding next-gen video games. "Work that used to take someone a week now takes him a month" said Brussee. There are 120 developers working on Killzone PS3, which is three times more than the amount of people who work on the first installation for the game. Half of the development team is from outside the Netherlands. The other factor which is making the game expensive to develop is the location of it. Killzone PS3 will be available in twenty different languages. Brussee feels this will pay off in the long run, "You sell 30 to 40 percent more [units] with a translated version."


PS3 Firmware Update 1.11 Now Available.

If you're one of those lucky people who actually have a PS3 in their possession, be prepared for a new firmware update that's going to affect all systems starting today. The update is v1.11 and it features an Account Management System Icon to your friends list. The feature itself was already present in previous firmware versions, but this time they just made it easier to access.

However, there is speculation among PS3 users that the updated fixed something else, since the browser seems to load pages faster, and the actual download itself takes more than a minute to download. We've heard of reports of up to 10 minutes for the entire update to fully download, and we experienced a 5 minute wait ourselves. Unfortunately the only documented change was the AMS, so we'll have to take Sony's word on it for now.


500MB Limit For PS3 Downloads.

John Hight with Sony Computer Entertainment Santa Monica says that the maximum size of PS3 game downloads will be 10 times that of Xbox Live Arcade games.

Hight, who is director of external development, told Firing Squad, “We’ve arbitrarily set a limit of 500MB to keep download times reasonable. Since we’ve got plenty of HD space we can accommodate even bigger games and a lot of them".

Microsoft currently has a 50MB limit on the size of its Xbox Live Arcade games. The policy is in place so gamers without a hard drive for the Xbox 360 can fit a download onto 64MB memory cards. Since the two versions of the PS3 include a 20GB or 60GB hard drive, the company has more freedom to increase the size of downloads.

Although the Xbox Live Arcade size limit may appear to be restrictive, the company has said that the Arcade is meant for quick downloads that can be bought and played on an impulse. Microsoft has also expressed that once larger memory cards are released, the company would reevaluate its position on the 50MB limit.


Nike PS3 Limited Edition Trainers Fetching $4000+ At Auction.

PS3 fanboys are going crazy to snap up the very limited edition PS3 Nike trainers. Current bid stands at $4,510 USD!

Sony Offers PS3 Airlift.

Sony has moved to assure retailers that more PS3 stock is on its way.

The company says new shipments will arrive on a weekly basis through the end of the Holiday selling season. An undisclosed quantity was reportedly distributed out to retail at the end of last week; inevitably selling out immediately.

Sony has been battered by shortage problems since the launch of PS3. It now appears highly unlikely that the firm reached its target of 400,000 units at launch, with one analyst estimating initial shipments as low as 125,000.

Sony is aiming to hit one million units ‘shipped’ by the end of this year, although this would effectively mean double the launch shipment every week. Although manufacturing capacity is increasing exponentially, and the launch has been pretty much free of technical problems, it looks like a stretch to believe that a million units will be in consumer-hands by the New Year.


Friday, November 24, 2006

IBM The Winner Of Nex Gen Console War.

No matter whether Nintendo Co., Microsoft Corp. or Sony Corp. wins the video game console war, there already is one huge victor: International Business Machines Corp., which designed and makes the microprocessors for all three units.

Not long ago, some analysts were suggesting that IBM sell its microelectronics division, which produces processors for IBM servers and a wide range of other devices, including automotive and telecommunications gear.

As recently as 2004, IBM was struggling to attract enough outside chip-making work to cover the enormous cost of manufacturing. Sales of chips to other companies remained flat that year, and chip profitability was marginal at best. (The unit that includes chips lost $252 million in 2003; IBM stopped releasing detailed figures after that).

Now, because of the video game deals, IBM is expected to see about $3.7 billion in sales of chips and associated design services this year, up from $2.9 billion last year and $2.5 billion in 2004. Analysts estimate the unit is profitable. But even those gains don't capture how much game chips have galvanized IBM.

Using the engineering consulting work it did for Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony as a model, IBM has formed a "technology collaboration solutions" unit that's expected to post $4 billion in revenue this year. Internal projections call for that division to hit $10 billion by 2010 and $20 billion by 2015.

Those targets might sound high for a $91 billion company that is barely able to increase overall revenue. But hardware division chief William Zeitler hopes to achieve them by replicating IBM's video game collaborations in such industries as telecom, defense and medicine.

"I think of this at the same stage of development that outsourcing was in the early '90s," he said. "There were a lot of people skeptical, and now it represents a large part of IBM's portfolio. We had exactly the right proposition at exactly the right time".

IBM executives credit their deals for the three game consoles to key decisions that date to the 1990s.

One was a plan to aggressively redesign IBM chips. While previous generations of chips were always tuned to generate faster and faster processing cycles - known as clock speed, measured in megahertz and now gigahertz - IBM pushed a "multicore" design that stresses the efficiency of multiple factors, such as power consumption or graphics rendering. The setup also enables more flexibility to customize chips for particular customers' needs.

The customized "Power" chips that IBM made for the Microsoft and Nintendo consoles, as well as the "Cell" chip that IBM, Sony and Toshiba Corp. jointly created for Sony's PlayStation, all use multiple cores. Cell has nine such processing engines.

"Ten years ago, it would have been inconceivable that all the game processors would have used IBM product," Zeitler said. "Nobody would have thought of it because all we had was standard things".

Second, while IBM poured money into upgrading its chip-making capabilities - including improvements at its factory in East Fishkill, N.Y., that has gotten $3 billion from company coffers - it also formed chip-investment partnerships with other companies. Sony put $325 million into Fishkill in 2004.

The partnerships let IBM leverage a bigger pool of research and development money than it could have spent on its own. And the deals helped insulate the company from the expensive volatility that troubles the chip business. Some of the IBM-designed game chips are made by Sony, and others are handled by Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., lessening IBM's exposure to swings in production cycles.

The financial benefits from these changes allowed IBM to shrug off last year's decision by Apple Computer Inc. to stop using IBM chips in its laptops and buy processors instead from the world's top manufacturer, Intel Corp.

Even more important, executives say, are the company's efforts to design chips for the high demands of video games, which have given IBM a portfolio of chip technologies it can apply to other systems, including computers for medical imaging, defense and complex simulations.
"From a technological perspective, we still have a tremendous amount of upside," said Bernie Meyerson, chief technologist for IBM's systems group. "We've only gone down this road one turn".

IBM is working with other companies, such as Mercury Computing Systems Inc., to adapt Cell and other chips for their own new devices. Cell powers a line of IBM servers and is being used in a supercomputer for the Los Alamos nuclear lab. Toshiba plans to use the chip in TV's.

However, even with Cell's performance boosts, it could have limited paths into other systems unless IBM can encourage many software developers to create applications that take advantage of Cell's unusual architecture.

And it's unclear how many customers need the performance that game consoles demanded, especially when industry-standard chips deliver at high levels.

Although IBM won bragging rights in winning the Xbox chip business away from Intel - Microsoft's closest corporate partner - Intel executives say focusing on video game chips hasn't given IBM an unmatchable edge.

David Tuhy, general manager of Intel's desktop products division, said his company's latest chips - which rely on four cores - support complex "massively multiplayer" games with stunning graphics on personal computers.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sony Happy With PS3 Launch.

Sony Computer Entertainment's Director of Corporate Communications, Dave Karraker, had plenty of positive comments to make about the launch of the PlayStation 3 in an official comment made earlier today, and also spoke on the future of the PS3 for the coming weeks.

"Sony Computer Entertainment America couldn't be more pleased with the response we have seen from consumers since the launch of PlayStation 3 on Friday [November 17], stated Karraker. "This truly demonstrates the power of the PlayStation brand and further validates our belief that consumers see real value in an entertainment system that will define the next decade of digital entertainment. At this point, we are focused on getting as many new PS3s to the North American market as possible for the holidays, including airlifting systems to the territory on a constant basis. With PS3 manufacturing now running smoothly -- and product being aired in weekly -- we're focused on our goal of shipping a million units to retail by the end of the calendar year. Due to the immediate nature of these shipments, we will not be providing weekly updates on North American supplies".

In addition to the statement above, Karraker also offered a number of "fun facts." These little tidbits included things like what the two biggest selling games were (Resistance, followed by Madden NFL 07); the 60GB model outsold the 20GB model; and that PS2 and PSP sales increased that week for Sony's top five retailers (a 29% increase for PSP and a 24% increase for PS2).

The statement that will likely be received with the most interest from consumers, however, is Karraker's remarks about PS3 replenishments into Thanksgiving and beyond. "A new shipment has already arrived and will be available at retail by Black Friday. We are still focused on reaching our goal of 1 million units in the pipeline by Dec. 31 in the US".

In related news, Nike has also created a limited edition shoe to commemorate the PlayStation 3's release. Yes, really.


Friday, November 17, 2006

The PS3 Touches Down.

The PS3 has arrived! Now the real challenge begins, as Sony aims to follow up on its day-one 400,000 shipment. To expedite shipments to retail, Sony is flying PS3s in. The company is "doing everything it can" to get as many units to stores as possible.

It's been a long journey for Sony's PlayStation 3—a system that was originally scheduled to launch this past spring—but now the console's real journey truly begins. After thousands of gamers spent days camping out in line at retailers like Wal-Mart, Best Buy and others just for a chance to purchase the next-gen system, Sony has delivered, by plane no less.

Speaking to the AP, Sony Computer Entertainment America head Kaz Hirai said, "We are trying everything we can to get as many units into the North American market as possible. The thing that we're trying to focus on now is shortening the lead time from the factories to the retailers and consumers. Usually, something this size and weight we would put on a boat, but what we're doing is chartering planes to fly them in ... that combined with trying to ramp up production as quickly as possible as well".

Hirai added that Sony will be replenishing the retail channel on a weekly basis, while Hirai's colleague SCEA executive vice-president Jack Tretton did him one better, stating that retailers will actually be getting shipments daily. We seem to recall Microsoft commenting last year that they would be sending Xbox 360 shipments to retail every week also, and that didn't seem to exactly pan out as planned.

One thing's for sure: getting a PS3 this holiday season will be a Herculean task. The hype for the system seems to be surpassing even what we witnessed last year for the 360, and that's exactly what Sony wants. In fact, Tretton told the AP that seeing all the gamers in a frenzy, camping out while eagerly anticipating the console, "kind of makes all the effort worth it".

The PS3 is in such high demand that eBay entrepreneurs have been easily selling their consoles for thousands of dollars. In fact, about a week ago one eBay seller took in $9,100 for a PS3. $9,100!

So, the PS3 is finally here.


Take-Two Puts Full Support Behind PS3.

Publisher Take-Two Interactive has announced that it has more than 20 games currently in development for Sony's newly launched system. Rockstar Games, 2K and 2K Sports will all be well represented on the next-gen console.

Sony's PlayStation 3 has launched (get more coverage here) and now Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive has announced that it will be fully supporting the next-gen console. The publisher currently has 20 games in development for the PS3, with seven of those coming from acclaimed yet controversial dev house Rockstar Games.

Rockstar is readying the much anticipated Grand Theft Auto IV for a North American release on October 16, 2007, which will be quickly followed by a European release on October 19, 2007. Also in the pipeline is the original title L.A. Noire, a detective story set during the classic late 1940's noir period, as well as "extensions of blockbuster Rockstar Games franchises".

2K and 2K Sports will also be thoroughly represented on Sony's console. Both NBA 2K7 and NHL 2K7 will be available from the get go on PS3. And 2K and 2K Sports currently have plans to publish more than eleven additional titles, including College Hoops 2K7 in January, Major League Baseball 2K7 in "late winter," The Darkness in the spring, The BIGS in the summer, NBA 2K8 and NHL 2K8 in September, and "additional sports titles based on 2K Sports proprietary brands, as well as additional high profile licensed and original new franchises from 2K".

"We applaud Sony for helping raise the bar in the next generation of gaming," said Paul Eibeler, Take-Two's President and Chief Executive Officer. "As the hardware transitions to the next generation, Take-Two is working hard to position itself to emerge as a leading next generation publisher, with our focus on delivering quality titles and harnessing technologies like Sony's cell processors and blu-ray storage capacity, as well as its proprietary SIXAXIS wireless controller".

He continued, "We're not asking gamers to wait until we can evolve into the technologies. From day-one, our development team will astonish gamers with the fullest, deepest and most entertaining titles on the market".


US PS3 Launch Countdown.

Analyst: Sony To Win Big In Long Run.

Microsoft's head start will give them the market share lead through 2007, but Sony will win in the long run with almost 60 percent of the market by 2012. That's the determination of research firm Strategy Analytics, whose Connected Home Devices service predicts Sony's 121.8 million PS3s will dwarf Microsoft's 59.7 million Xbox 360s in this console generation. The company sees the Nintendo Wii as almost a non-factor with only 23.3 million units sold through 2012.

Among the other predictions in the report:
  • 9 million total consoles sold this holiday season
  • 39.1 million consoles sold in 2007
  • 204.8 million consoles sold through 2012
  • 50 percent of all console sales coming from North America this generation.

The report sees this holiday period as crucial for Microsoft, which has to prove there is still demand for the Xbox 360 past the early adopters who have bought over 6 million systems so far. The key for Microsoft, they argue, is to lure away enough disappointed potential PS3 buyers in the next few weeks to maintain their early lead well into the future.

The report seems to put a lot of stake in the name recognition and current dominance of the PlayStation brand, which will force other console makers to convince consumers to "switch camps." Only time will tell whether customer loyalty can overcome high prices, hardware shortages and heavy marketing from Sony's competitors.


Sony Losing Almost $250 Per Console.

It was clear that the cost of producing PS3 units were high for Sony, forcing the company to charge $600 per unit, but now we know exactly how high. has offered a full analysis of Sony's expenses. As it turns out, Sony is losing $306.85 for each 20GB system sold and $241.35 for every 60GB system.

The full production cost for a 20GB system is a whopping $805.85, with the 60 GB coming in at $840.35. Chief among the expenses are the RSX graphics chip at $129 and the Blu-Ray optical drive at $125. In contrast, the $400 Xbox 360 only costs $323.30. For the first time in its five-year console publishing history, Microsoft is making a profit on each system sold.

For those wondering about retailers, it should be noted that stores make almost no money selling consoles. Retailers such as EB Games and Wal-Mart make money on software and peripheral sales.

The steep cost of producing PS3s won't last forever. In general, the longer an item is produced, the cheaper it becomes to manufacture. Over time, the cost of the PS3 will get lower as the cost of parts gets cheaper and production becomes more efficient. That doesn't guarantee Sony will ever make a profit on selling the system alone, but it can still bank on earning a hefty paycheck from software sales and digital downloads.

The bottom line is that no matter what it costs Sony to make one, you only have to pay $600 to own it. In that sense, you're getting a hell of a bargain when you purchase a PS3.


Thursday, November 16, 2006

US Gamers Wait For PlayStation 3.

North American gamers have been queuing for hours to get their hands on Sony's PlayStation 3 games console.

400,000 PS3's go on sale on Friday, following its debut in Japan last week.

Many shops will open at midnight to sell the console, which costs $499 (£264) to $599 depending on the model.

Kaz Hirai, chief executive of Sony's American games division said: "We're going to try and get as many units into the North American market as possible".

'Lead time'

He added: "Usually most companies would boat the product in, but we're actually chartering airplanes to bring them into the North American market to try to shorten that lead time, so we get as many units into the hands of consumers as possible".

Some gamers have been queuing for days outside shops, but others have been more enterprising.

"There are people that are very interested in a PlayStation and could not be here, so I'm representing them," Shelle Bloom, who is getting paid to queue for someone else outside a shop in New York, told the Associated Press.

In New York gamer, Sean Marshall said: "I took three days off work, so if my boss finds out, I get fired, but PlayStation 3 is worth it".

About 400,000 consoles have been made available for the North American launch, four times the number on sale in Japan last week where there were reports of homeless people being paid to queue for the console.

European gamers have to wait until March next year before being able to buy the machine.


Sony Announces New Marketing Campaign For PS3; Inspiring Games To 'Play Beyond'.

Sony Computer Entertainment America today announced a new marketing campaign to support the launch of the PLAYSTATION 3 and to further promote the popular PlayStation brand in North America. The new campaign, featuring the tagline “Play Beyond,” utilizes innovative advertising, viral and online components as well as promotion and retail activities, to educate and inspire consumers as they get ready to usher in the next era in digital entertainment.

"With 'Play Beyond' we are inviting consumers to think beyond what they might typically expect in a videogame and entertainment system,” said Peter Dille, Senior Vice President of Marketing, SCEA. “The provocative campaign will help create a distinct brand identity for PS3, while at the same time start the conversation among consumers that this isn’t your average console". The PS3 marketing effort builds upon the long-term strength and consumer loyalty of the PlayStation brand. The campaign features a variety of media and advertising components including national television, print, Web and out-of-home advertising vehicles. The initiative started in early October with out-of home advertising, including billboards and bus shelter ads in major metropolitan areas. Each ad depicts a stark white room with various objects acting in a surreal manner when experiencing the advanced abilities of PS3 and its components, such as the Cell Broadband Engine and Blu-ray Disc player.

The television ad campaign features a similar white room motif, with real world objects reacting instinctively to the power of PS3 and its components, such as the Cell processor, BD player, SIXAXIS wireless controller and the vast library of launch window software titles. The spots will run on major national broadcast and cable networks across a wide variety of time segments and shows. The new television ads have already been a hit with consumers logging more than 500,000 hits on the video site

The print campaign will top 40 million impressions and will run in several different national monthlies, weeklies and dailies. Online ads will reach 150 million impressions and will appear on gaming, sports, music and lifestyle websites. Finally, in true PlayStation fashion, a secretive interactive, viral layer has been added to the ad campaign to engage the loyal fan base. All the ads will point consumers to, a newly created website that features unlockable information about PS3 and its games. The site is also accessible through the PS3 system’s free* network capabilities utilizing the system’s built-in Web browser.

"The technology found in PS3 is unrivaled in its capabilities," explained Dille. "Our goal with this campaign is to demystify those technologies, utilizing enticing and easy to comprehend visuals to articulate the benefits they deliver to the consumer. This is an experience ‘beyond’ games, harnessing the power of imagination".

In addition to extensive retail support pieces utilizing the "Play Beyond" theme, SCEA also announced that 14,000 kiosks showcasing the PS3 system hardware and software are being installed at major retailers nationwide. The kiosks have a sleek and modern design and can be connected to the Internet for up to date product information, hardware and software highlights.
To complement the new marketing campaign, SCEA has also created the "PlayStation Experience"—a big-rig truck outfitted with a full line-up of playable games for the PlayStation 2, PSP, and of course, the highly anticipated PS3 system. The new PlayStation Experience truck will be on the road throughout the year stopping at various concerts and events nationwide including the upcoming International Motorcycle Shows in Arizona and Texas.

PS3 launches in North America on November 17, 2006 and will be supported by more than 22 retail and downloadable software titles through the holidays.


Four People Shot While Waiting in Line For PS3 Console.

Police are investigating a drive-by shooting involving people waiting in line for a video game.

Dozens of people camped out in front the Best Buy store on Nicholasville Road. They're hoping to get their hands on a Sony PlayStation 3 console. But the wait turned serious when someone drove by and fired shots at people waiting in line.

Four people were hit by the BB pellets, including 27 NEWSFIRST reporter Elizabeth Dorsett. She was interviewing someone in line at the time. None of them were seriously hurt.

Police came to the store to investigate. They're still looking for a suspect.Lexington Police say they'll stay at the Best Buy to make sure people in line stay safe.

The PlayStation 3 goes on sale Friday morning at eight. The consoles are selling for more than $600 a piece.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PS3 Backward Compatibility Marred.

When Microsoft's X360 was released almost a year ago, one of the knocks on the system was that it wasn't fully backward compatible with original Xbox games. The 360, which uses a different CPU and GPU from the original Xbox, can play some Xbox games through software emulation. However, the emulation has so far only been applied to a few hundred titles.

Sony, too, had planned to go the backward-compatibility route. To avoid the emulation pitfalls encountered by Microsoft, the company put PlayStation and PlayStation 2 hardware inside the PS3. However, it appears that even this approach to backward compatibility is having its problems.

On its Japanese Web site, the electronics giant has said that some issues are arising when attempting to run certain PlayStation and PS2 games on the PS3, according to Bloomberg. Sony has not stated how many games are being affected, but Reuters claims approximately 200 games in the PS and PS2 catalog have some issues.

A Sony spokesperson told GameSpot, "We are aware that a select number of titles have compatibility issues but these problems will be fixed with a software upgrade that will be available in the near future."

A Web site has been set up for Japanese users to see which games have compatibility issues and which may not work due to other problems. Titles with problems include Final Fantasy XI, Silent Hill 2, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, and Tekken 5.

The console was released in Japan on November 11 and promptly sold out. Sony will have approximately 400,000 PS3s available for the system's North American launch this Friday, and the company expects the backward-compatibility issue to also affect those units.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Phil Harrison Quotes From Official Playstation Mag.

Here’s some more quotes from Phil Harrison which’ll appear in the official PlayStation mag which launches on November 15. We hope to get a further instalment of this online tomorrow.

When asked which game they’ll rely on to sell the PS3?

"I think we saw this with the PS1 to a certain extent, that a lot of people talked about the ‘killer app’ and actually it’s the killer catalogue you want. It’s not about having a single title like a Mario or a Sonic on which you rest the entire platform personality on. It’s about having a wide catalogue that satisfies a number of different consumer tastes and styles. If you’re a sports fan in America, NBA and NFL available from day one means you will buy a PS3. If you are a first-person shooter fan it’s going to be Resistance: Fall Of Man. If you are a more cerebral player it might be Untold Legends - or it might be Motorstorm if you’re more of an action and exhilaration fan. I think there’s something for everybody in there. The games are outstanding quality and I think will satisfy".

PS1 saw the shift to 3D, PS2 had the explosion of free-roaming games after GTA III…. what changes do you expect PS3 to trigger?

"You can see sparks of change in individual games today. On the visual side, there’s full 1080p HD and what that means. You can see the artificial intelligence side of things in F1 and especially Resistance. You can start to see games doing some more interesting and unpredictable things on the physics side – particularly the kind of chaotic experience you get with Motorstorm. You can join those dots together and start to see how game development trends are going to be influenced. Its understandable why, day one, there isn’t a single game that incorporates everything, but I think it will happen shortly".

What do you think is the most interesting use of the Sixaxis pad so far?

"There’s a couple. The fake on NBA; if you want to fake past a player you just tilt left or right, that’s really intuitive. Flow is very intuitive, once you understand the control mechanism, which takes about three seconds. F1’s steering, looking around Resistance… We need to get thinking about the experience of a game and not the interface. I think that we’ll see the e-Distribution games making some really innovative uses of it".

Is rumble feedback really gone for good?

"I’ve been very consistent on this. The rumble feature was a great, impactful way of the machine talking to the user on PS2. But you had no influence on it; you just received a single channel feedback from the game. Sixaxis gives you greater influence over the game environment, enabling you to do things you could never do with buttons and sticks alone. That will yield way more sophisticated gameplay benefits and therefore more value to the player than a vibrating pad could ever do. Saying that, I don’t believe we’ve got definitive examples of how great it could be yet, but we’re close".

If, further down the line, there was a way of marrying the two technologies, would Sony consider it?

"No, because we’re making a standard controller. With the PS2 we made 160 million controllers. Once you’ve defined the format, you stick to it. Now, that doesn’t prevent third party steering wheels having force feedback and obviously [Gran Turismo creator] Kazunori is going to be keen to have that. There will continue to be vertically integrated controllers like that, which a specific to an individual game".

Is there any way players could record their own gameplay footage on the hard drive and then share it online?

"[Laughs] We’re actually already working on it now. There are two ways to do it. One is as pure video actually saved direct from the gameplay experience, but that creates quite a large data cloud. The more efficient way of doing it is to record game input and then share that to each user. We are doing that in a very innovative way on a game that we haven’t shown anybody yet".

How often do you expect PS3 firmware upgrades to happen?

"Right now we are focused on day one. I would imagine that there would be a firmware upgrade in time for the European launch. European consumers will probably get a step-up firmware upgrade, exactly as we did with PSP".

Presumably the PlayStation Store will be well-stocked for the UK-launch, and we’ll have the benefit of the extra content?

"Yes, although the stores are managed regionally, built on the same framework, you’re right. There will be greater supply of content and availability of non-game content".

Is there any way word on European price for the 20GB model?

"We’ve never announced the price in the UK. The answer is no, but I’m sure it will be announced in due course. However, retail has told us that the vast majority of interest is in the 60GB model. But now the 20GB has HDMI as well there’s no effective difference in the machines whatsoever, because all of the other functionality is available through a USB card reader".

How’s Killzone coming along?

"With Killzone, the expectation internally and externally is very high – and I won’t show it until it’s going to exceed people’s expectations. It will be next year before we show it again, but it’s coming along very well. The team are working very hard, they know exactly what they have to do and there’s no doubt they will achieve it, but there’s nothing to be served by something that doesn’t satisfy my goals for the project. I can tell you, though, that some elements already exceed the trailer".

Can you describe the typical day on PlayStation network a year from now?

That’s a great question…Checking in with my clan to see what the plan is for tonight’s SOCOM or Resistance games. Searching out the latest trailers, downloadable demos, skins for my desktop. Downloading a new album, reading a fine editorial of Official PlayStation Magazine, watching stuff on YouTube that my friends emailed me about…You only have to look at the Cross Media Bar to see how everything is going to fit into a Network environment. Obviously you’ve got your friend lists, the ability to chat directly with them, you’ve got your internet browser and the Store with downloadable games".


Saturday, November 11, 2006

PlayStation 3 Sells Out At Jap Launch.

Electronics stores in Japan have sold out of PlayStation 3 consoles after thousands of gamers queued for hours in the cold to buy them.

Large queues meant some shoppers were turned away even before stores opened at 0700 local time (2100 GMT).

The console officially went on sale on 11 November but Sony only made 100,000 machines available on launch day.

Instead of opening at midnight, stores organised lotteries to decide who in the queue would get a long-awaited PS3.

Line dance

Outside Bic Camera's flagship Tokyo store more than 1,000 people queued for their chance to buy a PlayStation 3.

Shop attendants with microphones warned impatient customers that sales would end if there were any injuries.

"Standing in line today is the only way to make sure I got one," said Takayuki Sato, 30.

Tomoaki Nakamura, 41, said: "I've been waiting for this day to come for so long. I'll play it all through the weekend. No time for meals,"

The head of Sony's game unit head, Ken Kutaragi, known as "the father of the PlayStation", expressed his gratitude to those who had waited.

"I hope you will enjoy the next-generation entertainment to your heart's content," he said.
The company said it would be a few days before they knew whether all retailers had sold out of all their PS3 consoles.

Earlier, bloggers catalogued the numbers of people waiting outside stores.
Brian Ashcraft who toured electronics stores in Tokyo for game blog Kotaku described the scene as "organised chaos".

The BBC News website also received e-mail messages from those queuing outside stores.

Game gear

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is being sold in two configurations. The more expensive version has a 60GB hard drive and wi-fi on board and costs, in Japan, 60,000 yen (£270). The cheaper version has a 20GB hard drive, lacks the wi-fi and will cost 49,980 yen (£222). European prices are expected to be higher than direct comparisons suggest.

Both versions include a wireless controller, a Blu-ray high-definition DVD drive and a port so they can work with a high-definition display. Buying a PS3 also gives owners free access to the online PlayStation Network where they can meet and take on other gamers.

Sony expects five games to be available at launch including Ridge Racer 7, Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight, Genji, and Resistance: Fall of Man.

Like other next-generation consoles the PS3 offers gamers much more detailed graphics than ever before. The IBM-developed Cell chip inside the console uses seven separate processing cores which can be used to make the physics in game worlds more realistic and allow computer-controlled enemies to behave with great sophistication.

"The image quality is so superb you'd almost think it's a real movie," gamer Hisafumi Funato said after trying it out at a demonstration event in downtown Tokyo. "I want one, especially if I don't have to stand in a long line".

Cost crunch

The PlayStation 3 was originally supposed to go on sale in early 2006 but production problems and shortages of key components forced a delay. The European launch of the console has been pushed back to March 2007.

This has also meant that there are only 100,000 consoles for gamers in Japan. Sony said 400,000 will be available for the US launch on 17 November. Despite the shortages, Sony said it was confident of shipping six million PS3s by the end of March 2007.

Although Sony has dominated home console gaming since the launch of the first PlayStation in 1994 its lead is under greater threat than ever before. Arch-rival Microsoft released its Xbox 360 console in November 2005. By the end of 2006 Microsoft hopes to have sold about 10 million Xbox 360s.

Also due to launch in November is Nintendo's Wii console which is far cheaper than the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360. It goes on sale in the US on 19 November.

Analysts expect Sony to lose money on every console sold for some time to come.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Japan Queues Up For PS3.

The PlayStation 3 is set to hit Japan this weekend, and eager Japanese gamers have lined up to get their hands on Sony’s next-gen console.

On Friday at 8 p.m. in Tokyo, gamers were already lined up to buy the PS3, which wasn’t to go on sale until 7 a.m. the next morning. There were two distinct lines of people who intended to get their hands on a system: one in Ikebukuro in front of Bic Camera in the gadget district Akihabara made up of around 250 people, and one in front of Asobit City Games, consisting of less than 100.

Japan is expected to get around 80,000 units total on day one, so quantities will be initially tight in Japan, as with the rest of the world. Most major retailers will have 100 to 150 PS3s to sell, while smaller stores will get a paltry two to five units.

Although there is certainly great anticipation for the system, there is a low-key air about the launch. It’s almost as if many Japanese consumers were dissuaded to line up because of the well-known shortages that are anticipated. Nevertheless, the system is likely to sell out in the first hour or so.

Amidst complaints from gamers, some stores in Akihabara have decided to sell the few PS3 through lottery drawings--if chosen by number, customers win the right to buy a console.

As for software, the latest polls from ITmedia indicate that 30 percent of the people who are going to buy a PS3 will go for Ridge Racer 7, 25 percent for Resistance: Fall of Man (a good figure for a country known for being relatively anti-FPS) and 24 percent for the new Gundam title. Genji: Days of the Blade recevied only 5 percent of peoples' attention bringing up the tail-end of the poll.

The PS3 is set to launch in North America with around 400,000 units on November 17.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

PS3 To Be Updated At Launch.

Early adopters of the PlayStation 3 in Japan have more to look forward to than a paltry lineup of launch titles that can be counted on a single hand. That's right, thanks to the PlayStation Network, the PS3 offers the promise of online content, including downloadable games and messaging features.

The only problem is, the launch PS3 units don't actually have the proper firmware to access the new PlayStation Network hub. Sony Computer Entertainment announced today that purchasers of the launch hardware will need to run a system update in order to get the necessary firmware, System Software Version 1.10, in place.

This is, thankfully, an easy enough process. All PS3 owners will have to do is access the System Update option under the settings header of the cross media bar. Everything should be automatic from there.The System Software Version 1.10 update will be available when people open their PS3 units for the first time. In making the announcement today, Sony didn't indicate why the latest firmware wasn't included right out of the box. We'll leave the creative speculation to you.

But wait, this sordid tale of a lack of preparedness gets even better. You know all that jazz about connectivity between the PSP and PS3? Well, while the PS3 might be ready for it, it's another story for the PSP. Owners of the portable will have to download Version 3.0 of the firmware in order to use the PSP as a remote media player for the PS3 and to play PSP-compatible software that has been downloaded to the PS3 from the PlayStation Network. Unfortunately, this update won't be ready until the end of November.

Hopefully, that means in time for the US launch.


Ridge Racer 7 And Mobile Suit Gundam On PS3 Have Gone Gold.

Namco Bandai announced that its next-generation titles Ridge Racer 7 and Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire for the PlayStation 3 have both gone gold. To those out there still in the dark about these things, this means that the games' codes have been finalized and that they are ready for production in time to ship to stores simultaneously with the launch of the PS3.

Ridge Racer 7 lets players race fully customizable vehicles against opponents at speeds of up to 160 miles per hour. The game features a number of classic and brand new courses, 5.1 channel surround, and support for 1080p. Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire puts gamers in the cockpit of a futuristic war machine in the midst of a sci-fi war for the future. The game features more than 30 different playable Mobile Suits and 60 unique missions.

Ridge Racer 7 and Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire are rated "E" and "T" respectively, and will each retail for a suggested price of $59.99.


SixAxis PS3 Advert.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sony: All PS3 Titles To Use Single Online Sign-In.

Every game on the PS3 will use the same universal sign-in and the same online ID, Sony has confirmed - even titles which do not use the central buddy list and messaging systems offered by the console.

Speaking to this morning, the UK producer on launch title Resistance, Dan Brooke, said that he "wishes to be clear that Resistance uses the Playstation online ID to sign into the game. There is no separate login for Resistance and the online ID you create will be the same you use for all titles".

The clarification comes after Ted Price, head of Resistance developer Insomniac Games, revealed last week that despite having extensive online functionality, the game will not be using the central buddy list offered by the PS3; instead, players will build an in-game buddy list unique to the game.

Resistance is also set to offer advanced community features such as clan support, party support, match-making and ranking. At present the PlayStation 3 operating system does not offer centralised support for these features.

However, contrary to some reports which have appeared in recent weeks, gamers will not be expected to sign up new accounts for each game they play, as the PS3 will handle a single sign-in ID for this purpose.

This system is similar to how online games worked on the PS2, where users had a single Central Station ID which identified them in every game on the system - although unlike the PS2, the PS3's network adapter is built in and configures itself automatically in most network environments, and the system boasts persistent internal storage for network and sign-in details, as well as for downloaded content.

However, the PS3's service still falls significantly short of Microsoft's highly regarded Xbox Live system, whose voice chat, messaging, buddy lists and so on are not only a core part of the service, but are utilised by all online titles on the console.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Rumor: European PS3 User Registration Begins Nov 9th.

Rumor has it that Sony will allow European gamers to register their PS3 usernames from November 9th for the PS3 Network. This will allow gamers to have an equal chance at getting their favorite names or get good ones before everything is taken up.

It has yet to be confirmed how IDs will be managed and how Sony will keep people from gathering all nicknames without having even bought a PlayStation 3.

Furthermore, it is still just rumor that Europe will have the chance to register on November 9th, so until official announcements from Sony, don't get your hopes up just yet.


Tales Of Gold For Untold Legends.

Untold legends: Dark Kingdom has gone gold. The PS3 exclusive action-RPG is guaranteed to ship in the "launch window," but is expected to arrive in stores by November 17.

In Untold Legends, players take control of one of three characters in a hack-and-slash adventure. Players can take the hacking and the slashing online with four-player coop. This way you don't have to dungeon crawl alone (we know you're afraid of the dark).

Bonus content will be available for download on the PlayStation Network sometime after launch.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Virtua Tennis PS3 To Use Tilt.

SEGA has revealed that the PlayStation 3 version of Virtua Tennis 3 will support the Sixaxis' tilt function to move around the court and play shots.

It's an option, obviously, but if you turn it on you'll discover you're able to move the player around the court by tilting the pad.

Not only that, but apparently you'll be able to serve the ball and play shots using the controller like a tennis racket - swinging up quickly to lob, down quickly to slice, and horizontally for top spin.

Not quite the same as Wii Sports Tennis, then, but certainly enough to invite comparisons.
Otherwise Virtua Tennis 3 is expected to ape in many respects the arcade version, and is also due out on Xbox 360, PC and PSP next spring.


Insomniac In Full Production Of PS3 Ratchet & Clank.

With work on PS3 launch title, Resistance: Fall of Man now complete, insomniac has now turned its attentions to Ratchet & Clank.

According to information sent out in an email newsletter, Insomniac, having recently finished work on Resistance: Fall of Man, is now in full production of a Ratchet & Clank PS3 game.

"Those of you who are waiting for some Ratchet & Clank news, here's a quick update. We are in full production on our R&C PlayStation 3 game. That's all we can share at this time, but you'll be hearing and seeing more from us in the not-so-distant future," the email read.

There's no info on what we can expect from the game, but it's pretty safe to assume that we'll be seeing lots of crazy weaponry, platform/action gameplay, and a strong multiplayer element. We'll keep you posted.


Sony: Warns Gamers Of PS3 Scams.

Sony Computer Entertainment America has issued a statement warning consumers away from taking up discount/bulk PS3 offers.

The statement issued by Sony states that websites offering bulk and discounted PS3 shipments "are not done with any cooperation from SCEA or its parent company".

"SCEA strongly recommends against consumers pursuing such offers, as their legitimacy cannot be confirmed. We recommend consumers purchase PlayStation products only from authorised SCEA retailers and resellers,"

You have been warned. On a similar note, with the PS3 likely to be a target for eBayers, please stay away from listings which are too good to be true. With import PS3s obviously in high demand across Europe, there's bound to be some scammers hoping to rip off eager gamers.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ted price: Resistance:Fall of Man.

Now that we’re starting to get our hands on the PS3 launch titles in a little more depth, personal favourites are emerging. I’ve got friends who are all over Ridge Racer 7 like a rash; others are intrigued by MotorStorm’s ace physics and combative gameplay. It’s a good sign, I guess, that people are finding their own titles to fixate on rather than everyone pointing at one single launch title as being the pick of the bunch - or worse again, everyone sounding a universal “meh” sound and being uninterested by the lot. For me, though, the title to watch is Resistance: Fall of Man - a first person shooter which I initially wrote off as being a cynical attempt to make a World War 2 game by the numbers look interesting by adding aliens, but which looks more and more like a genuinely brilliant game every time I see it.

Today, then, I’m having a quick chat with Ted Price - the head of Insomniac Games, the company making Resistance. You might know them as the developers of Ratchet & Clank, and Finally, we leave Price with a question about the locations in the game - which takes in action from cities including York, Manchester, Grimsby (yes, Grimsby - “it had a great fish cannery,” Price explains cryptically), Nottingham and London, plus quite possibly a few more. “We actually went over to England - one of our artists went over and took a lot of photographs of all the places that we built,” Price explains.although Resistance is gritty and unrelenting, depicting an alternate history where real British towns and cities are under the control of a nasty extra-terrestial force in the late 1940s, you can still feel the influence of Ratchet in the game’s weapons. The team has really cut loose with the PS3’s physics capability, giving us a host of really interesting weapons we’ve never seen in a game before - many of which, Price claims, couldn’t have been done at all on the PS2, because they rely so heavily on working out the physics of hundreds of individual bullets, spikes or particles.

That being said - isn’t Price worried that most people will just dismiss the game as yet another WW2 shooter, which is exactly what I did when I first saw it? Apparently not.

"The fact that we set it in Great Britain is a big clue for people that this is not a World War II game,” he explains, “because in World War II, there wasn’t a lot of fighting in Great Britain! Secondly, the Chimera have a greater and greater influence on the environment as you move through the game - and even though we’ve shown some settings that are more terrestrial, there are plenty of Chimeran structures that set it apart from any other first person shooter out there, especially those that are World War II shooters".

"Finally," Price continues, "we make a big point in the story to emphasise the difference between this time period and previous time periods - in particular, with the technology that we present. You’ll notice that we have VTOLs [Vertical Take Off and Landing aircraft] flying around - that’s the standard mode of transportation in this world. Those didn’t exist in our world until the 1990s perhaps, the 1980s? That freedom of creating very different technology was one of the great aspects of working with this alternate history - and I think that as people play the game, they’re going to feel that it’s a very different setting".

One of the interesting things about Resistance, from a gamers point of view, is that it doesn’t look like a launch title - which in general are games that are a bit rough and ready, with graphics that don’t take advantage of the hardware, not much in the way of content and loads of bugs. By contrast, Resistance is a really polished game - the kind of thing you expect to see a year after a console launches, not the day it comes out. So did Sony play favourites and give Insomniac access to hardware before all the other studios, or something?

Not necessarily," Price says, "but we worked closely with Sony at the very beginning to understand what the architecture was going to be all about. We participated in that early aspect of development, before we even had dev stations. As a result, we were able to get ready for when those dev stations came - so as soon as we got the dev stations, we jumped on it, and we had our levels up and running very quickly. We began building assets long before we got PlayStation 3 development stations".

He pauses and thinks for a second. "The other thing to keep in mind," he says, "is that we’ve been on PlayStation hardware now for over ten years, and I think our team of engineers is used to how Sony develops hardware. Even though the Cell and the PlayStation 3 are very, very different from PlayStation 2 and PlayStation, there’s a certain design sensibility that you get in terms of working with the hardware. Sony, for example, their hardware allows you to get very close to the metal - and our guys are used to working at a very low level and really squeezing a lot of power out of these machines. So, they were probably more ready because of our experience on the previous Sony platforms than had we not worked on PSone and PS2".

Aside from the singleplayer campaign, Resistance also has extensive multiplayer support - both four-way split-screen, and online play for up to 40 players. Online games are hosted on servers provided by Sony, and Price claims that the team has experimented with 40 player matches involving gamers from locations as far afield as the United States, Spain and Japan, with near-perfect gameplay experienced between those countries. The game also has a built in buddy list, support for clans with up to 200 members, and the ability to form temporary parties who join a match as a group, thus simplifying the process of getting all your pals into the same game. However, disappointingly, it won’t hook into the main buddy list of the PlayStation 3 - instead you’ll need to build your own buddy list which is specific to the game. Price wouldn’t be drawn on whether this will be fixed by a future update to the game, but he made a point of saying that the buddy lists are separate "currently", and said that "it is definitely possible to update the game via online" - so perhaps there’s hope on that front.

Finally, we leave Price with a question about the locations in the game - which takes in action from cities including York, Manchester, Grimsby (yes, Grimsby - "it had a great fish cannery," Price explains cryptically), Nottingham and London, plus quite possibly a few more. "We actually went over to England - one of our artists went over and took a lot of photographs of all the places that we built," Price explains.

"We also used maps of the era. For instance, if you go into Manchester, you’ll notice that the Manchester cathedral is there, the bridge leading to the cathedral is there… It was all based on real maps of the areas. Also, London is in the game, but it’s very different because it has a lot of the older structures that we believe would have existed had World War II never occurred in real life. So, it does look different to what you see today - it’s not quite as modern, simply because it never had a chance to be modernised".

All of which, as a Londoner, just leaves me all the more keen to see the game in its final form. When all’s said and done about the hardware, PS3 will - like any console - live or die on the strength of its games; and Resistance is definitely one to watch to get a feel for what developers are starting to accomplish on the hardware.


Sony Falls Behind Japanese Shipment Targets.

Sony has failed to meet its stated shipment figures for PlayStation 3’s launch in Japan by 20,000 units.

The company had previously committed to ship 100,000 consoles for the November 11th launch. But according to a report in Japanese financial paper Nikkei Keizai Shimbun, that figure has now been cut by 20 per cent.

The newspaper reports that component shortages are to blame. The console’s launch was delayed in Europe because of a lack of blue laser diodes, part of the PS3’s Blu-Ray player.

PS3 will launch in North America on November 17th and in Europe during March next year.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sony Funding 'About 40' Download Titles For PS3.

Sony's Phil Harrison says the company is already working with developers on "about 40" exclusive titles that fit into its e-Distribution Initiative (EDI) - the PlayStation 3 equivalent of Xbox Live Arcade.

Speaking to Eurogamer's Rob Fahey as part of an interview being serialised on semi-official Sony blog Three Speech, Harrison said that EDI had been "a call to action to the development community to encourage them to create games specifically for us, that we would fund, that we would publish, in the online sense of the word, and distribute online".

"We're developing about 40 products that fit that strategy right now," he added. They showed off Flow at the Tokyo Game Show, of course, with others like Calling All Cars (David Jaffe's title, formerly known as Criminal Crackdown) also generating a lot of interest.

"My strategy was to encourage developers to push the machine technically, creatively, artistically - to innovate in lots of different ways. But don't be restricted by ghettoising games into a particular genre, or a particular display mechanic, because what we've seen on other systems tend to be retro 2D games, and we're pushing the 3D capabilities of the PlayStation 3. Plus, the fact that every PS3 has a hard disk drive means that we're not restricted by the size of the download, and that has a huge impact on the kind of game design that you can do," he continued.

"We're seeing an emerging strength in developers creating games specifically for downloadable content. We're seeing that as a really interesting way of stimulating creativity, experimentation... And it makes me feel as excited as about the games that we saw at the beginning of PS1, when there was a lot of really interesting innovation happening in the marketplace. I think we'll see that on PlayStation 3 as well".


David Jaffe Renames 'Criminal Crackdown' To 'Calling All Cars'.

God of War architect David Jaffe revealed at his New Blog that his PS3 arcade title Criminal Crackdown has been renamed to "Calling All Cars".

Here's Jaffe's explaination of why the name changed:

We were in a mad rush to reveal the game at GAMER'S DAY a few weeks back and all the legal checks had not yet come down giving us permission to use that name. Unlike some other companies that seem to have no problem giving their games titles that SOUND pretty darn close to other games, Sony likes to give us as much room as possible between our game names and other game names. Which is nice. But challenging as well because there have been ALOT of video games made over the last 30-35 years so it makes it tough to find a name that is fresh and appropriate and fun, while at the same time being something that will not get you thrown into a court room.

Jaffe also mentions that Twisted Metal and God of War both had their names changed before the developmental dust settled.