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E3 2006: Sony’s Press Conference, PlayStation 3 Pricing and Date

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After a nearly unbearable delay of close to an hour, Kaz Hirai heads onto the stage to begin the presentation. He begins to push media compatibility and hints at upgradeable firmware that would allow it to do more at a later date. He discusses the huge financial investment involved in the console and how they will not be about cutting corners. “Consumers are ready, and the future becomes reality,” is an early tagline. He talks about the launch in November, which would be a critical feature late in the conference.

Sony continues with their typical number rundown, involving sales and consoles shipped. He announces strong support for the PS2 lasting many years, including games like Socom 4, and God of War 2. In total, there will be 216 titles by the end of year 2006. He moves onto PSP discussion, how they delivered on promises about producing an unrivaled device. The system would be the fastest selling in company history. Planned are 155 new titles, some of which were show in a brief video montage:

Killzone
PlanetPSP
Ape Escape Academy 2
B-Boy
LocoRoco
Syphon Filter
World Tour Soccer 2
Talkman Voice Chat
Gangs of London

He follows with the announcement of PSP Greatest Hits, which will launch with five games:

ATV Blazing Trails
Ape Escape
Twisted Metal
Wipeout Pure
Hot Shots Golf

He continues on with the sale of UMD movies, which have surpassed 18 million, firmware upgrades that will include RSS video, voice over IP, GPS, and a camera coming this year.

Hirai steps off the stage as a video montage begins featuring people who play PlayStation worldwide. Graphics are a definite focal point. Hirai steps back on stage to outline specifications, including the cell processor, a pre-installed/removable hard drive, support for a variety of memory stick formats, USB, Blu-ray, and backwards compatibility all with previous optical discs. Wireless controllers are mentioned with support for seven players. He confirms full backwards compatibility and wireless data exchange with the PSP. He begins to push Blu-ray and the importance of its size benefits. He again mentions the hard drive and its ability to store downloadable content, and its improvements to game play like lessened load times.

He confirms the early November launch will be world wide, and final dev kits are shipping now. Games will be fully playable on the show floor.

SCE Worldwide president Phil Harrison takes over and introduces Gran Turismo’s Kazunori Yamauchi, a completely Japanese speaker with a translator. They begin playing a Gran Turismo prototype. This is Gran Turismo 4, converted to the PS3 while running in full Hi-Definition, 1080p. Motorbikes, scooters, and F1 vehicles are shown. While they claim it is actually being played, most of it is shown in a replay camera. They continue pushing the Hi-Definition and how the game is running in a higher resolution than average HD cable.

They begin play on a second track and point out that loading times are non-existent. From the menu to game takes about three seconds. They begin a brief comparison between the previous games in the series for the audience. They continue onto a third track with an incredible gallery of fans who move away from swerving cars. The game is set for a release date “not too far from the release of PS3.”

Harrison comes back on stage with praises for the Turismo team, especially in the short amount of time they had to work on the demo. Richard Marx, the EyeToy creator, is next. He shows off an Eye of Judgment demo. This new card based game used the Eye Toy to recognize cards placed on a surface. The camera reacts perfectly to his movement, and all actions are controlled in this manner. Harrison walks over to put down a rubber duck card that demolishes the others.

Kaz Hirai comes back onto the stage. His focus now leans to Sony’s online strategy for the PS3, which will become standard. “Online to the PS3 is essential.” Friends list, account management, rankings, video chat, and text messaging will be part of their basic service. Most importantly, all of this will be free.

He discusses offering a variety of content to the PS3 and PSP through e-distribution. He pulls out a PSP with a PS1 title running, Ridge Racer. It run smoothly even with a screen stretch to fit the widescreen format. Pre-paid cards will be sold at retailers to purchase classic PlayStation games, credit cards can also be used.

Phil Harrision comes back up. He shows off the PS3 online interface including a shop to purchase various items, game related or not. These features can be built into games, and he shows this off using SingStar, a popular European karaoke game. A demonstrator browses a list of songs to buy and play in the Sing Store, though no price is announced. Spending limits will be part of the parental controls. He demonstrates SingStar’s ability to develop a person’s profile, see what friends are online, and talks about the ability to record and upload performances with the camera.

Genji 2, sequel to a PS2 game, is played. Hundreds of enemies on screen and sea battles are talked about. A unnamed Formula 1 game makes an appearance, running with a PSP in sync. The handheld is used to display a rearview mirror to the on-screen action.

Heavenly Sword, an impressive action title with some wild moves, gets the stage next. This extended showing shows off some quick-time events in addition to the brutal and varied action. A video montage of games further out is then played featuring:

LAIR
Getaway
Afrika
Hot Shots
Monster Kingdom

He then introduces two major releases, a 3rd person action game called Eight Days and a new game from Naughty Dog, a Tomb Raider-ish unnamed piece.

Ted Price, Insomniac CEO, is invited on stage to showcase Resistance: Fall of Man. Set in a past alternate reality, this FPS shows a bleak world dominated by mysterious creatures trying to overtake mankind. It will feature 32-player online game play.

Kaz is back to discuss third party titles, and he does so with a video montage showing us:

Assassin’s Creed
Gundam
Coded Arms Assault
Ridge Racer 7
Brothers in Arms
Tekken 6
Sonic the Hedgehog
Virtua Tennis 3
Virtua Fighter 5
Stranglehold
Armored Core 4

EA’s CEO, Larry Probst, is introduced and brings up the NBA Live director. A direct comparison from the PS2 to PS3 is made, showing the PS3 character model looking around at a cursor. EA is calling this “procedural awareness.” They show another tech demo of accurate stepping and freedom of movement. They give a demo on the hardware. It shows the same basic menu screen from the Xbox 360 version released earlier this year. It’s an animation showcase, though no game play inside a stadium is shown. Next is an animation demo showing Tiger Woods. This clip used “You Cap,” a new way to animate facial expressions. It’s undeniably a feat.

EA is then given the monitors for their own video clips featuring:

Madden 07
NBA Live 07
Tiger Woods PGA Tour
Need for Speed Carbon
Army of 2
Medal of Honor Airborne

Squaresoft gains the attention of Kaz Hirai as he debuts the trailer for Final Fantasy XIII and mentions Final Fantasy Versus XIII, though fails to disclose exactly what that is. This latest chapter features a female lead in a futuristic setting.

Hideo Kojima is mentioned before showing of the latest trailer for his upcoming Metal Solid Gear 4, which is running on the dev kit. As expected, this was incredible footage with a shocking ending and a surprising appearance from Raiden.

Ken Kutaragi is next, and it’s his job to make the big reveal of the PlayStation 3 controller. The crowd is silent as he pulls a wireless Dual Shock from his breast pocket. However, not is all as it seems as Phil Harrison demos new features. Inside the controller is a motion sensor, and no external devices are needed. Everything is contained inside the Bluetooth wireless enabled controlled. He claims it is lighter than the Dual Shock 2 and it is a “fantastic innovation.”

To prove this, he brings out a developer who is working on Warhawk, which will use these features. He starts a demo that seems to be completely out of control and has a hard time making moves.

Hiria returns for the final time. His closing statements begin, but not without one more important note: the date and price of the PS3. The break down is as follows:

A worldwide launch will be in two configurations, one with a 20 GB hard drive, and the other with a 60 GB hard drive.

The date for Japan is November 11th, with the 20 GB priced at 59,800 yen, and the 60 GB model will be set by the retailer.

November 17th will be the date for the rest of the world. In the US, the 20 GB model will retail at $499, and the 60 GB will run $599.

Europe features the same two models retailing for 499€ and 599€ respectively. Sony plans to have two million consoles at the worldwide launch, four million by Christmas, another two million by the end of the first quarter the following year. He thanks the audience and closes the presentation.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.breakingwindows.com/ Ken Edwards

    That “fantastic innovation” quote is priceless. Can you say “Wii-mote?”

    The $500 model isn’t even worth buying, “the $499 model does not include wi-fi, memory stick support, or HDMI output.”

    That makes that $400 Xbox 360 purchase in November look pretty good, an entire $200 less that a properly equipped PS3.

    And Nintendo is going to be sitting pretty with a $250 price tag for the Wii. I am sure we will get that confirmation tomorrow afternoon.

    I was underwhelmed by the games, shocked by the blatant rip off, and quite frankly Sony did a better job at building PS3 hype at the 2005 E3.

  • Senor Hurt

    Hate to sound Cliche: Been there done that!
    Wii looks awesome. Nintendo brings innovation. Microsoft brings Xbox live 2.0. What does Sony bring to gamers? Blueray…HUH? And I used to love Sony as a brand for gamers because they brought entertainment to gaming. Now they’re doing what I was afraid they would do. Instead of bringing value to gamers they’re trying to fool gamers into buying some of their product (blueray) that gamers don’t need or want. What does PS3 bring to us gamers that the others aren’t? Seriously, I’m asking I’m desperate for Sony’s answer. They didn’t give it to my today.

  • http://digitalbattle.com Armin Siljkovic

    I think Nintendo will price the Wii at $250 or less. It might not become the first choice of hard core gamers, but it will definetly be the 2nd console in my living room.

    Also, $250 will appeal a lot more to parrents buyng a console for their kids and non-gamers in general.

  • Dynamo of Eternia

    PS3 is just seeming very unimpressive.

    They are copying Microsoft’s idea of releasing 2 versions of the system, which I didn’t think was a great idea to start with. But, at least with Xbox 360, even if you buy the less expensive, bare-bones unit, you can still buy the hard drive and other options at your leasure, and eventually build up to everything that you would have gotten in the more expensive unit.

    However, with PS3, you don’t have that option. If you get the cheaper system with the reduced features, you’re stuck. You can’t upgrade it or add things on to eventually have what you would get with the more expensive system. I think this is going to upset a lot of people. You know that when this launches, everyone will want it, the more expensive units will be the ones to go first, and people will be mad that they have to choose between the cheaper unit with less features or nothing.

    Then there is the controller, which now has the same essential feature as that of Nintendo. Can we say rip off? Now, I know it is common practice for one company to use a good idea that another one came up with. But usually there is a period of time between the two. In this case, they come out and say the controller has this motion feature, acting like its something completely new, original, and innovative, and trying not to bring up the issue that its essentially the same thing that Nintendo announced quite a while ago.
    Even if Sony had been planning this for some time and didn’t actually copy Nintendo’s idea (Which I highly doubt), it really doesn’t look good on their part to only just now announce it and try to make it seem like its original, after another company has been saying for some time that they are doing this.

    At any rate, I have Xbox 360 now, I plan to get Wii. I doubt I will get PS3 at launch. I may get it eventually if the price goes down. The one thing that I may consider doing is buying a PS3, selling it on ebay while they are in high demand, doubling my money, then putting the profit cash I get off of it aside to eventually get a PS3 of my own when they are readily available. It all depends though. I really don’t want to support Sony because they burned me and many others too many times.