A major feature that distinguishes the PlayStation 3 from its predecessors is its unified online gaming service, the PlayStation Network, which contrasts with Sony's former policy of relying on game developers for online play. Other major features of the console include its robust multimedia capabilities, connectivity with the PlayStation Portable, and its use of a high-definition optical disc format, Blu-ray Disc, as its primary storage medium. The PS3 was also the first Blu-ray 2.0-compliant Blu-ray player on the market.
The PlayStation 3 was first released on November 11, 2006 in Japan, November 17, 2006 in North America, and March 23, 2007 in Europe and Oceania. Two SKUs were available at launch: a basic model with a 20 GB hard drive (HDD), and a premium model with a 60 GB hard drive and several additional features (the 20 GB model was not released in Europe or Oceania). Since then, several revisions have been made to the console's available models.
Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation 3 to the public on May 16, 2005, during the E3 2005 conference. A functional version of the system was not present there, nor at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005, although demonstrations (such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots) were held at both events on devkits and comparable PC hardware. Video footage based on the predicted PlayStation 3 specifications was also shown (e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire).
The initial prototype shown in May 2005 featured two HDMI ports, three Ethernet ports and six USB ports; however, when the system was shown again a year later at E3 2006, these were reduced to one HDMI port, one ethernet port and four USB ports, presumably to cut costs. Two hardware configurations were also announced for the console: a 20 GB model and a 60 GB model, priced at $499 (€499) and $599 (€599), respectively. The 60 GB model would be the only configuration to feature an HDMI port, Wi-Fi internet, flash card readers and a chrome trim with the logo in silver. Both models were announced for a simultaneous worldwide release: November 11 for Japan, and November 17 for North America and Europe.
At the Tokyo Game Show on September 22, 2006, Sony announced that it would include an HDMI port on the 20 GB system, but a chrome trim, flash card readers, silver logo, and Wi-Fi would not be included. Also, the launch price of the Japanese 20 GB model was reduced by over 20%, and the 60 GB model was announced for an open pricing scheme in Japan. During the event, Sony showed 27 playable PS3 titles running on final hardware.
Soon after its release in Japan, the PS3 was released in North America on November 17, 2006. Reports of violence surrounding the release of the PS3 include a customer shot, campers robbed at gunpoint, customers shot in a drive-by shooting with BB guns, and 60 campers fighting over 10 systems.
On January 24, 2007, Sony announced that the PlayStation 3 would go on sale on March 23, 2007 in Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Africa and New Zealand. The system sold about 600,000 units in its first two days. On March 7, 2007, the 60 GB PlayStation 3 launched in Singapore with a price of S$799. The console was launched in South Korea on June 16, 2007 in a single version equipped with an 80 GB hard drive and IPTV.
All retail packages include one or two Sixaxis controllers and/or a DualShock 3 controller (beginning June 12, 2008), one miniUSB to USB cable (for connecting the controller to the system), one composite video/stereo audio output cable, one ethernet cable (20, 60, and 2007 80 GB only) and one power cable.
|Model||Model Number(s)||Available colors||USB 2.0 ports||802.11 b/g Wi-Fi||Flash card readers||Chrome trim||SACD support||PS2 compatibility||First available||In production|
|CECHBxx||Piano Black||November 2006|
|CECHGxx, CECHHxx||Piano Black|
| October 2007|
|CECHAxx||Piano Black||November 2006|
|CECHCxx||Piano Black||March 2007|
|CECHExx||Piano Black||August 2007|
|CECHKxx||Piano Black|| August 2008|
|CECHPxx||Piano Black|| October 2008|
In addition to all of the features of the 20 GB model, the 60 GB model has internal IEEE 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi, multiple flash card readers (SD/MultiMedia Card, CompactFlash Type I/Type II, Microdrive, Memory Stick/PRO/Duo), and a chrome coloured trim. In terms of hardware, the 80 GB model released in South Korea is identical to the 60 GB model released in the PAL regions, except for the difference in hard drive size. Like the South Korean and European models, the North American 80 GB model also excludes the PlayStation 2 "Emotion Engine" CPU chip. However, it still keeps the "Graphics Synthesizer" GPU. Due to emulation of the "Emotion Engine", the level of compatibility was reduced (see PlayStation 3 games - Removal of hardware support for more details). The 40 GB, 80 GB (2008), and 160 GB models have two USB ports instead of the four USB ports on other models, and do not include multiple flash card readers, SACD support, or any backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 titles. This was due to the removal of "Graphics Synthesizer" GPU, which stripped the units of all PlayStation 2 based hardware.
No official Wi-Fi or flash memory card readers have yet been released by Sony for the 20 GB system, although plans for such add-ons are in place. Nevertheless, as the model features four USB 2.0 ports, wireless networking and flash memory card support can already be obtained through the use of widely available external USB adapters.
It was rumored that the Cell processors in the third-generation PS3s (40 GB) would move from a 90nm process to the newer 65nm process, which SCEI CEO Kaz Hirai later confirmed. This change lowers the power consumption of the console and makes it less expensive to produce.
|Region||Units sold||First available|
|Canada||520,000 as of August 1, 2008||November 17, 2006|
|Europe||5 million as of May 6, 2008||March 23, 2007|
|Japan||2.32 million as of September 1, 2008||November 11, 2006|
|United Kingdom||1.4 million as of September 2008||March 23, 2007|
|United States||5 million as of July 1, 2008||November 17, 2006|
|Worldwide||14.41 million as of June 30, 2008||(more...)|
In January 2008, Kaz Hirai, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment, suggested that the console may start making a profit by early 2009 stating that, "the next fiscal year starts in April and if we can try to achieve that in the next fiscal year that would be a great thing" and, "that (profitability) is not a definite commitment, but that is what I would like to try to shoot for". However, market analysts Nikko Citigroup have predicted that the PlayStation 3 could be profitable by August 2008. As of July 20, 2008, Sony continues to incur a loss on every PlayStation 3 unit sold. In a July 2008 interview, Hirai stated that his objective was for the PlayStation 3 to sell 150 million units by its ninth year, surpassing the PlayStation 2's sales of 140 million in its nine years on the market.
Since the system's launch, production costs have been reduced significantly as a result of phasing out the Emotion Engine chip and falling hardware costs. The cost of manufacturing Cell microprocessors has fallen dramatically as a result of moving to the 65 nm production process, and Blu-ray diodes have become cheaper to manufacture. As of January 2008, each unit costs around $400 to manufacture.
On January 7, 2007, Sony met its goal of shipping 1 million units to North America. Just over a week later, on January 16, 2007, Sony confirmed they had shipped 1 million units in Japan, bringing the worldwide total to over 2 million shipped. As of April 1, 2007, approximately 5.5 million units had been shipped worldwide.
The PlayStation 3 is currently behind its competitor systems, the Wii and the Xbox 360, in total worldwide sales. In Japan during 2007, the Wii outsold the PlayStation 3 by as much as 6 to 1 in some months. According to Enterbrain, the PlayStation 3 has been more successful in Japan with 2.32 million PlayStation 3 consoles sold as of September 1, 2008; outselling the Xbox 360, which was released almost a year earlier than its competitors, which sold 684,695 units; both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were outsold by the Wii, which sold 6.67 million units.
From October 2007 to November 2007, sales of the PlayStation 3 went up by 285% in the United States. Sony CEO Howard Stringer attributed the growth to a price cut and Nintendo's inability to manufacture the Wii system at a rate high enough to meet public demand.
In 2007, the PlayStation 3 had sold 2.56 million units in the US according to the NPD Group, 1,206,347 in Japan according to Enterbrain, and an estimated 2.8 million in Europe according to Electronic Arts. In 2007, the Wii had outsold the PlayStation 3 by 3:1 in Japan, while the Xbox 360 had sold 257,841 units in that region that year, according to Enterbrain.
As of January 1, 2008, the PlayStation 3 has sold over 180,000 units in Australia according to GameSpot. As of September 2008, the PS3 has sold 1.4 million units in the United Kingdom, according to GfK Chart-Track.
In the United States, the PlayStation 3 outsold the Xbox 360 for the first time in January 2008 according to the NPD Group. A day prior to the NPD sales figures being released Microsoft said that the Xbox 360 had shortages for that month in the US. Prior to January 2008 the PlayStation 3 had been a consistent third behind the Wii and the Xbox 360 in US sales. The PlayStation 3 also outsold the Xbox 360 in February 2008, but was then outsold by the Xbox 360 in March 2008 according to the NPD Group. In June 2008 PS3 again outsold Xbox 360 by a margin of 405,500 to 219,800.
According to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, the PlayStation 3 had outsold the Xbox 360 from October 2007 onwards in Europe and in May 2008 it surpassed the Xbox 360 (which was released 16 months prior to the PlayStation 3) in total European sales.
In the first seven months of 2008, the PlayStation 3 has sold 200,000 units in Canada, outselling the Xbox 360 which sold 154,000 units; however, the PlayStation 3 was outsold by the Wii with 376,000 units; the PlayStation 3 has sold a total of 520,000 units in Canada as of August 1, 2008.
The PlayStation 3 is convex on its left side when vertical (the top side is convex when horizontal), and has a glossy black finish with the Playstation logo on the left side. Playstation designer Teiyu Goto stated that the Spider-Man font-inspired logo "was one of the first elements *SCEI president Ken Kutaragi[ decided on and the logo may have been the motivating force behind the shape of PS3.
The PlayStation 3 features a slot-loading 2x speed Blu-ray Disc drive for games, Blu-ray movies, DVDs, CDs, and other optical media. It was originally available with hard drives of 20 and 60 GB (only the 60 GB model was available in PAL regions). An 80 GB model has since been introduced in NTSC regions, and a 40 GB model has been introduced in all regions. All PS3 models have user-upgradeable 2.5" SATA hard drives.
The PlayStation 3 uses the IBM-designed Cell microprocessor as its CPU, utilizing seven of the eight "synergistic processing elements" (often shortened to SPE). The eighth SPE is disabled to improve chip yields (i.e. chips do not have to be discarded if one of the SPEs is defective.) Only six of the seven SPEs are accessible to developers as one is reserved by the OS. Graphics processing is handled by the NVIDIA RSX 'Reality Synthesizer', which can output resolutions from 480i/576i SD up to 1080p HD. The PlayStation 3 has 256 MB of XDR main memory and 256 MB of GDDR3 video memory for the RSX.
The system has Bluetooth 2.0, gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 and HDMI 1.3a built in on all currently shipping models. Wi-Fi networking is also built-in on the 40, 60 and 80 GB models while a flash card reader (compatible with Memory Stick, SD/MMC, and CompactFlash/Microdrive media) is built-in on 60 GB and current 80 GB models.
The PS3's hardware has also been used to build supercomputers for high-performance computing. Terra Soft Solutions has a version of Yellow Dog Linux for the PlayStation 3, and sells PS3s with Linux pre-installed, in single units, and 6 and 32 node clusters. In addition, RapidMind is pushing their stream programming package for the PS3. Also, on January 3, 2007, Dr. Frank Mueller, Associate Professor of Computer Science at NCSU, clustered 8 PS3s. Mueller commented that the 512 MB of system RAM is a limitation for this particular application, and is considering attempting to retrofit more RAM. Software includes: Fedora Core 5 Linux ppc64, MPICH2, OpenMP v2.5, GNU Compiler Collection and CellSDK 1.1.
On March 22, 2007, SCE and Stanford University released the Folding@Home project for the PlayStation 3. This program allows PS3 owners to lend the computing power of their consoles to help study the physical process of protein folding.
At its press conference at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, Sony announced the DualShock 3 (trademarked DUALSHOCK 3), a PlayStation 3 controller with the same function and design as the Sixaxis, but with vibration capability included. Hands-on accounts describe the controller as being noticeably heavier than the standard Sixaxis controller, and capable of vibration forces comparable to the DualShock 2. It was released in Japan on November 11, 2007, in North America on April 15, 2008, in Australia on April 24, 2008, in New Zealand on May 9, 2008, in Europe on July 2, 2008, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland on July 4, 2008.
The PlayStation 3 also includes the ability to install other operating systems, such as Linux.
In response to Microsoft's success with their Xbox Live network, Sony announced a unified online service for the PlayStation 3 system at the 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing meeting in Tokyo. Sony also confirmed that the service will always be connected, free, and include multiplayer support. In addition, the registration interface can only be accessed through the PS3 system interface.
At the Tokyo Game Show on September 21, 2006, it was revealed that users will be able to download some of the thousands of PlayStation and PlayStation 2 titles from the PlayStation Network for about US$5–$15, starting with those with the smallest game data.
On May 8, 2007 Sony Computer Entertainment announced PlayStation Network Cards, a form of electronic money that can be used with the Store. PlayStation Network Tickets, available in units of 1,000, 3,000, 5,000, and 10,000 yen, can be purchased at convenience stores throughout Japan. Each ticket contains a 12 alphanumeric code which can be inputted to the PlayStation Network to place credits in the virtual wallet. The tickets are available through electronic kiosks at 26,000 convenience stores, including Lawsons, Family Mart, Daily Yamazaki, Ministop and Sunkus. They are also available at 26,000 post office ATMs, although registration is required first at a special mobile website.
A similar PlayStation Network Card system based on actual cards instead of tickets was introduced in South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in Summer 2007 and in Spring 2008 in North America.
During the 2007 Game Developers Conference Sony announced PlayStation Home, a new free-to-download community based service for the PlayStation Network, which allows users to create an avatar character for their PlayStation 3 system. This avatar will have its own apartment, which can be adorned by items players can receive following various achievements. In the future the service will expand, allowing players to have a wider variety of clothing as well as pets. Home will be a Second Life-like experience and will allow PlayStation 3 owners to interact in a virtual world. Home will also act as a meeting place of sorts for players who want to play multiplayer games on the PlayStation 3. During a video demonstration of Home, Sony said that a Home icon and options will be added to the Xross Media Bar (XMB), it is expected to be available through a firmware update or as a separate download from the PlayStation Store. A closed beta was in progress in Europe in May 2007, and an open beta was scheduled to be available in North America in early fall 2007. However, at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, Sony announced that the final worldwide launch of Home, which had originally been scheduled for fall 2007, would take place in Spring 2008. SCEI President and Group CEO Kaz Hirai later stated that the launch was delayed for further testing and feedback evaluation to provide the best possible experience upon launch. On April 21, 2008, Sony announced that Home would be delayed further and the closed beta would be extended until fall 2008, delaying the service's availability to the general public by a full year.
The PlayStation Portable can connect with the PlayStation 3 in many ways, including in-game connectivity. For example, Formula One: Championship Edition, a racing game, was shown at E3 2006 using a PSP as a real-time rear-view mirror. In addition, it is possible to download PlayStation 1 games to the PlayStation 3 from the PlayStation Store. These games were not originally playable on the PS3. They could only be sent to a PSP, and played using the PSP's PlayStation Emulator. Sony added support for playing downloaded PlayStation titles on PS3 on April 18, 2007, with the update to firmware revision 1.70.
Sony has also demonstrated the PSP playing back video content, including 1080p content from the PlayStation 3 hard disk across an ad-hoc wireless network. This feature is referred to as Remote Play located under the browser icon on both the PlayStation 3 and the PlayStation Portable. Remote play has since expanded to allow remote access to the PS3 via PSP from any wireless access point in the world.
At E3 2007, Sony was able to show off a number of their upcoming video games for the PlayStation 3, including Heavenly Sword, Lair, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Warhawk and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, all of which were released in the third and fourth quarters of 2007. They also showed off a number of titles set for a 2008 release; most notably Gran Turismo 5 Prologue, a preview of the fifth installment in the popular driving simulator series, LittleBigPlanet, an innovative platformer that focuses heavily on user-created content and SOCOM: U.S. Navy SEALs Confrontation, an online incarnation of the tactical shooting series. A number of third-party exclusives were also shown, including the first-person shooter Haze and the highly-anticipated stealth action title, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, alongside other high-profile third-party titles such as Devil May Cry 4 and Grand Theft Auto IV. Two other important exclusives for the PlayStation 3, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and White Knight Chronicles, were shown at TGS 2007 in order to appease the Japanese market.
At E3 2008, Sony announced a number of titles for their 2009 line-up, including The Agency, an MMO shooter allowing players to assume the role of secret agents, God of War III, the third installment to the popular hack and slash adventure series drawing on Greek mythology, inFamous, a brand new action title expanding on the ever-growing sandbox genre, Killzone 2, the highly-anticipated sequel to the hard sci-fi first-person shooter, and MAG: Massive Action Game, an online multiplayer shooter that supports up to 256 players simultaneously.
The PlayStation 3 received generally unfavorable reviews soon after its launch, with many websites and reviewers criticizing its high price and lack of quality launch games. However, after a series of price revisions, Blu-ray's victory over HD DVD, and the release of several well received titles, such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, the system has begun to receive better reviews.
The PS3 was given the number-eight spot on PC World magazine’s list of "The Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006," where it was criticized for being "Late, Expensive, and Incompatible. GamesRadar ranked the PS3 as the top item in a feature on game-related PR disasters, asking how Sony managed to "take one of the most anticipated game systems of all time and — within the space of a year — turn it into a hate object reviled by the entire internet", but added that despite its problems the system had "untapped potential. Business Week summed up the general opinion by stating that it was "more impressed with what [the PlayStation 3] could do than with what it currently does.
Some journalists judged that the relative ease with which it was possible to buy a PlayStation 3 in stores in the U.S. and Japan soon after its launch, compared with the scarcity of the Wii, was evidence of lukewarm consumer demand for the system. In addition, there were reports that some Japanese retailers discounted the system as early as January 2007 to stimulate demand. In an interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, SCEA Chief of Operations Jack Tretton scoffed at the assertion that PS3s were not flying off store shelves, telling the interviewers, "If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it. In response, Penny Arcade's Gabe and Tycho demanded a reward of $13,200 after finding eleven PS3s in stores near their home town.
Despite the initial negative press, several websites have given the system very good reviews. CNET United Kingdom praised the system saying, "the PS3 is a versatile and impressive piece of home-entertainment equipment that lives up to the hype ... the PS3 is well worth its hefty price tag. CNET awarded it a score of 8.8 out of 10 and voted it as its number one "must-have" gadget, praising its robust graphical capabilities and stylish exterior design while criticizing its limited selection of available games.
In addition, both Home Theater Magazine and Ultimate AV have given the system's Blu-ray playback very favorable reviews, stating that the quality of playback exceeds that of many current standalone Blu-ray players. Also, the Convergence Panel of the European Imaging and Sound Association recognized the PS3 as the best media center product in the 2007/2008 award year.
Hexus Gaming reviewed the PAL version and summed the review up by saying, "...as the PlayStation 3 matures and developers start really pushing it, we’ll see the PlayStation 3 emerge as the console of choice for gaming. At GDC 2007, Shiny Entertainment founder Dave Perry stated, "I think that Sony has made the best machine. It's the best piece of hardware, without question. A second review of the PS3 by Ars Technica in June 2008 gave the console an overall mark of 9/10, while the original launch review marked only 6/10.
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