Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sony Set to Introduces New PlayStation 3 Model for the USA

Sony Computer Entertainment America may have plans to introduce a new PlayStation 3 game console model shortly in the USA. The exact specifications of the new system is unclear, however, with 80GB machine gone and Sony’s present stance on compatibility with previous-gen games, there may be no PS3 machine with backwards compatibility at all as early as several days from now.

Several days ago an allegedly internal Best Buy memo was published at Joystiq/PS3 Fanboy web-sites claiming that no new shipments of Sony PlayStation 3 80GB are incoming, meaning that only the more affordable PlayStation 3 40GB is set to be available shortly. Nevertheless, Sony will reportedly continue with its two model approach and soon there will be a new version of the PS3 for the U.S. with enlarged storage and a new controller with vibration feature.

“Sony is, in fact, phasing out the 80GB PS3. Sony is going to stay with the two-SKU approach though, and the prices look to stay the same. The Spiderman 3 pack-in will disappear as well once the 80GB unit is gone. In order to maintain a similar value proposition to the 80GB/Spiderman 3 bundle, I expect to see a storage increase to 120 or 160GB at the same price point, plus the new Dual-Shock 3 controller,” an anonymous source told Ars Technica web-site.

It is interesting to note that Sony recently discontinued its PS3 20GB and 60GB models in Japan, meaning that there now only PlayStation 3 40GB model, which cannot play games for the original PlayStation or the PlayStation 2, on the domestic market. In Europe there are two models: with 60GB hard drive and software-based backwards compatibility and with 40GB hard drive that is no backawards compatible.

Sony Computer Entertainment claims that cutting-down backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 is not something completely negative, as growing library of games developed for the advanced new-generation game system should substitute the lack of previous titles. While this may be correct for so-called hardcore gamers, which play a great variety of games, casual customers who currently own a PlayStation 2 have no reason to transit to the new-gen console due to the lack of casual games for PS3. As a result, they may migrate to Nintendo Wii, which features unique motion sensitive controller as well as a relatively rich library of simplistic games.

Sony PlayStation 3 console is based on the Cell processor developed by IBM, Sony and Toshiba, the RSX graphics chip by Nvidia Corp., wireless network and Bluetooth connectivity and is equipped with Blu-ray optical disk drive. There are several versions of the consoles available around the world with 60GB or 80GB hard disk drives and variable compatibility with PlayStation 1/2 games as well as 40GB version that cannot play old games at all. The official prices of Sony PlayStation 3 40GB and 80GB in the USA are $399 and $499, respectively, European customers have to pay €399 ($590) and €499 ($738) for 40GB and 60GB models, respectively, whereas Japanese gamers can obtain PlayStation 3 40GB for ¥39 980 ($367 or €248).

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. did not comment on the news-story.

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