Playstation 3 goes global

2007-03-21 09:34

Paris - The wait for video game buffs in Australia, Europe and the Middle East will be over on Friday when Sony extends the launch of the PlayStation 3, the most expensive of the new generation consoles, after delays that gave its rivals an edge.

The Japanese electronics and entertainment giant plans to sell one million consoles in these regions, as well as in Africa, but will make available only the top-of-the-line 60-gigabites model at a cost of €599.

That pricetag is higher than Sony's key rivals: Microsoft whose top model Xbox sells for €399 and Nintendo's Wii for €249.

Sony was forced to delay the first launch of the PS3 by about six months until November last year due to problems with the console's high-definition DVD player, giving Microsoft's Xbox 360 a one-year head start and also ceding ground to domestic rival Nintendo.

The PS3 debuted first in the United States and Japan and more than 90% of demand there has been for the top-of-the-range console, according to Georges Fornay, president of Sony Computer Entertainment France and vice president for Europe.

Not all games are compatible

While there will be about 30 new games, Fornay confirmed that not all the games for PlayStation 2 will be compatible with the new console, estimating that about 1 200 games would be usable.

However, a higher price, a late launch and less compatibility are weakening Sony's entry into the European market.

The launch in the rest of the world was also disrupted by low stocks, but Sony still hopes to catch up with Microsoft and Nintendo.

The US software giant has sold 10.4 million Xbox 360 consoles, while Nintendo has attracted families to buy its Wii, with about six million consoles sold since November - a figure Sony hopes to match by the end of this month.

PlayStation 3 comes with a Cell chip processor and a Blu-ray DVD disc, allowing for more true-to-life graphics and for playing High Definition movies. Promoted as a platform for multimedia entertainment, it also offers a high-speed Internet connection.

Despite the late world launch of PS3, the Sony group raised its net profit forecast for this year by 38% thanks to the popularity of its flat-screen televisions, digital cameras and the latest James Bond fil