Archive for February, 2006

A big PS3 speech scheduled for March

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Game Developers Conference Sony Worldwide Studios President Phil Harrison will deliver a keynote at the Game Developers Conference in San Jose.

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Here’s another teaser: Sony might make some serious revelations about the PS3 at next month’s Game Developers Conference, held in San Jose, Calif., from March 20 to 24.

The big deal is a speech by Phil Harrison, the president of Sony Worldwide Studios, in which he may give us some useful information about Sony’s plans for the PlayStation 3 this year.

Harrison is expected to provide attendees with the first solid information on the company’s plans for its next-generation debut, with the keynote speech focusing on “the new creative, technical, and business opportunities provided by the arrival of PlayStation 3.”

Can’t wait for March 22! And just for fun, the following people are also doing keynotes at the conference: Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, The Sims creator Will Wright, and Ron Moore, the creator and producer of Battlestar Galactica, which we’ve been downloading from iTunes en masse lately.

Phil Harrison confirmed for final GDC keynote [GamesIndustry.biz]

Sony exec talks PS3 and piracy

Friday, February 17th, 2006

So here’s the biggest news from Taipei — a Sony Asia exec says the company will launch PS3 when it’s prepared to take on piracy.

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There wasn’t really any useful PlayStation 3 action at this week’s Taipei Game Show, but we did get a few words from the managing director of Sony Asia, Tetsuhiko Yasuda.

Yasuda says that the biggest competitor for the PlayStation 3 is piracy, and that the system won’t be released until Sony is fully prepared to deal with that challenge. Kinda sucks for Microsoft that they’ve been bumped down to No. 2 on Sony’s hit list, but hey, piracy is a big deal.

“We want to be completely prepared when we bring PlayStation 3 to the marketplace,” Yasuda said. “Our No. 1 competition is not other companies but counterfeiters. We want to work with governments to stop this.”

Yasuda went on to declare that Sony will definitely launch the PS3 in 2006, and that it will eventually ship 100 million PS3s, a feat accomplished by both the PS2 and PSX. Apparently Yasuda also said it’s possible that Sony and Microsoft will eventually work together on game development, which sounds bizarre. Maybe it was just random nonsense, but who knows.

PlayStation 3 to Launch When Sony is Prepared [GameDaily]
Sony to definitely launch the PS3 this year, says company official [DigiTimes]
Sony expects strong PS3 shipments in 2006, may work with Microsoft [DigiTimes]

No PS3 gameplay in Taipei

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Taipei Game Show Lame-o Logo Despite the flurry of launch news in the past couple days, the PS3 remains unplayable and behind glass. And the boomerang is back!

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Just like the Consumer Electronics Show, which was held in Las Vegas in January, there was hope for the Taipei Game Show. Not as much hope, but still a glimmer or two. So much for that.

The PS3 is indeed on display at the Taiwan expo, but it’s still unplayable and behind glass, the same thing we saw at CES. And the “boomerang controllers suck” crew suffered a setback — the boomerang has returned for Taipei after its conspicuous absense from Vegas.

Sony did make a comment about releasing the PS3 “when it’s ready,” or some such doublespeak, but most interestingly, they claim to be taking on piracy as their biggest competitor (rather than Microsoft). We’ll get to that in a bit.

Have you seen this PS3? Sony tells, not shows, at Tapei Game Show [Ars Technica]

September PS3 launch for US and Japan?

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Next Generation is reporting that sources who have seen the software launch dates on paper point to a date in mid-September.

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In what may be the first real break in PlayStation 3 launch news since last year’s E3, when Sony scheduled the system for the now-unlikely Spring 2006, the web site Next Generation has an industry source who says the PS3 will be released in September.

This isn’t official yet, but here’s the basis for the speculation:

A launch games release schedule seen by our sources states a September launch. Although the schedule does not explicitly state a hardware launch date, nor a launch territory, we understand Japan and U.S will both see the machine in September.

They go on to suggest that this could mean Sept. 16 in Japan (the Saturday before a holiday), and Sept. 21 in the U.S. (a Thursday).

So, what does this all mean? nVidia, which created the PS3’s graphics chip, has already said that they won’t be collecting any royalties from Sony before the end of April, so that pretty much rules out a launch before then. And we’ve been speculating a late summer to early fall release since the PS3’s no-show at CES in January, so this rumor is certainly credible. Maybe not the exact dates, but the month for sure.

We’ve got a few more stories on the way about the PS3’s online service and other Taipei Game Show revelations, so stay tuned this afternoon.

Exclusive: PS3 HUB; September Launch [NextGen]

nVidia expects no PS3 cash this quarter

Friday, February 17th, 2006

nVidia That means the PS3 won’t launch until at least the end of financial quarter, which ends in April.

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Dean Takahashi, the gaming writer at the San Jose Mercury News, scores his second gaming scoop of the week after listening in on nVidia’s quarterly corporate conference call. He noticed that nVidia says they don’t expect any royalties from Sony in the current financial quarter, which ends in April.

And since nVidia built the graphics chip used in the PS3, they’ll collect a piece of every sale. That means the console won’t launch before the end of April, anywhere.

We’ve also heard from Next Generation that the PS3 is scheduled for a September launch in both the U.S. and Japan, which stands to reason based on the scant evidence we have so far.

A Clue From Nvidia On PlayStation 3 Schedule [Mercury News]

EARLIER: The same writer reveals one big reason for the Xbox 360 shortage.

A real reason for the Xbox 360 shortage

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

The San Jose Mercury News breaks Microsoft’s public relations wall and pinpoints a malfunctioning chip that could be to blame.

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Pretty much every newspaper in the country is lighting up with the scoop that part of the Xbox 360 shortage has been caused by a German chipmaker called Infineon, which, along with Samsung, produces the graphics memory chips for Xbox 360.

Turns out those chips (called GDDR3, or graphics double data rate) have been running into some speed problems. Some of them work, but some of them run below the desired speed, which in turn slows down the whole system. Microsoft has had to spend time weeding out the slow chips from the good ones, which has slowed things down. And since there are fewer good chips than there should be, that reduces the number of 360s they can produce.

Microsoft officially won’t point any fingers at a particular manufacturer, and it’s possible that this isn’t the only reason the 360 has been in short supply. But it’s a good start. Check out the full story for all the dirty details, as well as some analyst chime-ins.

Xbox 360 delivery slowed by a chip [Mercury News]

More layoffs, this time at Activision

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

The developer continues to mirror Electronic Arts, laying off about 7 percent of its work force after a bad financial quarter.

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Activision has announced that it’s firing about 150 employees, or 7 percent of its total force, after disappointing results during the holiday season. The cuts don’t seem to be targeting any particular part of the company, and they are being described as part of the effort to “realign” things for next-gen production.

“We’re just trying [to] strike a balance between our near-term needs in ‘07 and our anticipated growth in ‘08,” said Activision’s Dyer to TheStreet.com.

EA’s month has looked pretty much the same, laying off more than 300 employees just before announcing that its holiday profits dropped 31 percent compared to 2004. Hey, guys, if it helps, we could use some bloggers with gaming expertise.

Activision Lays Off 7% Of Workforce [Gamasutra]

The first hands-on look at the PS3

Saturday, February 11th, 2006

We’re so jealous — gaming site Kikizo publishes a detailed report on playable PS3 games from three different developers.

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The tone overall: optimistic, kind of excited, but there’s still a lot of work to be done. The guys at Kikizo had a chance to play around with the PS3 thanks to three kind game developers, who will remain anonymous since they’re participating in all this espionage.

The story is five pages of PS3 impressions, and it talks a lot about the PS3’s graphics (all that matters, right?), as well as some speculation on the system’s release and how it compares to the Xbox 360. Here’s a tidbit, and be sure to show these guys some love by checking out the full story. Who could resist?

Sony’s showings of PS3 to date have been seriously sexy. But the reality, while still impressive, is nowhere near the leap beyond Xbox 360 Sony wants you to believe, and it seems many projects are still at an early enough stage for things to start getting a little worrying. …

Based on what we’ve played versus the hype of the last year, it’s impossible not to be slightly disappointed, yet we’re still hugely excited and most of all, relieved that all the claims, confusion and debate now make more sense.

Exclusive: Hands-On with PlayStation 3 [Kikizo]

PS3 on display at Taipei Game Show

Friday, February 10th, 2006

Another gaming expo, another chance for the PS3 to shine. Too bad no one knows if it’ll be playable at all.

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The PlayStation 3 will be a big deal at the Taipei Game Show next week — the only problem is, we’re not sure if it’ll be a playable system or just an empty box like at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

What we do know comes from a Chinese-language publication called the Commercial Times, dutifully translated by Gamespot. The report says that Sony will devote a quarter of its booth at the expo to the PS3, which we presume is a lot. As for a playable PS3, we’ll just have to wait and see — but considering the apparent launch delays and the relative obscurity of the Taipei show, we find it hard to imagine Sony would debut the playable console there. Then again, we’ve been wrong before.

PlayStation 3 to appear at Taipei Game Show [Gamespot]

Sony announces Blu-ray pricing

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Movies released by Sony Pictures Entertainment on the new Blu-ray DVD format will sell wholesale for between $17.95 and $23.45.

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Sony announced the price structure for Blu-ray DVDs released by its movie arm, Sony Pictures Entertainment. Older movies will sell to retailers for $17.95, and new releases for $23.45. This is the price for the stores to buy them, not the price you pay — but for comparison, it’s about 15 percent more than the stores pay for DVDs. Don’t worry, they’ll pass that increase on to you.

Sony also announced that it’ll be packaging some DVDs with a UMD version of the movie (the small discs that play on PSP). Those packages will go for $28.95, which is a good deal, since purchasing them separately could cost up to $45.

DVD-UMD Bundles on the Way, Blu-ray Priced [Next Gen]