President of Sony Computer Entertainment, Ken Kutaragi, dropped a few bombs today concerning the future of the company's new Playstation 3 console. Chief among the new information was a confirmed worldwide release in all three major regions (Japan, North America, and Europe) during the first half of November (most likely the 11th). Though we posted a story a couple days ago citing such a delay, many speculated that the Fall date would be for Japan only and that Sony would miss the holiday season in domestic territories, letting the PS3 slip into 2007. The reason for the delay remains in the development of Blu-Ray copy protection software. All PS3 media will be written onto Blu-Ray discs in order to take advantage of it.
Ken Kutaragi did his best to put these fears at ease, also citing that manufacturing plants would start ramping up production soon, pumping out at least 1 million units and 10 million Blu-Ray discs (at 1000 yen a pop) every month until release. The current plan is to have at least 6 million consoles on shelves by the end of the 2006 Financial Year. Kutaragi remained cryptic on the final price, though, positing that it will be "no less than 50,000 yen" or about 425 USD.
Also revealed were details on the PS3's Hard Disk Drive. Though it wasn't confirmed whether or not the unit would ship with an HDD installed, updated specs revealed that the new console would feature a 2.5" detachable HDD slot with the capability to upgrade. Kutaragi did point out that the peripheral would be required for many of the Playstation 3's features (such as serving as a home network hub of media content or caching data/save files) and encouraged developers to create titles with HDD capabilities in mind. The approximate size of the add-on will be 60 gigabytes and will come pre-installed with the Linux operating system.
Kutaragi also let slip a few small tidbits on their online plans. The basic service will indeed be free (he did not say if there would be a premium pay version a la Xbox Live Gold) and Sony will be working with Gamespy Industries to construct their network. Final devkits, allowing developers to take advantage of HDD and networking features, will be made available in June.
Rounding out the Playstation 3 info is support for HDMI 1.3 right from launch, a format that can display rich, 48-bit color on properly equipped TVs. Also taking advantage of a jump in resolution will be the catalog of backwards compatible PS1/PS2 games. The Playstation 3 will offer full compatability with its predecessors and will even be able to make use of heavy texture filtering and image upscaling to 1080p in order to make those old games like nice and shiny.