Archive for April, 2006

TDK’s first Blu-ray discs hit the shelves

Friday, April 14th, 2006

TDK is shipping its first 25- and 50-gig Blu-ray discs, in both writeable and rewriteable formats.

FULL STORY:

The Blu-ray disc format, which will be used for all PlayStation 3 games, is slowly but surely hitting the market on the PC side, today with an announcement from TDK that it is shipping its first cartridge-free 50- and 25-gigabyte discs.

The price for a single 25 GB BD-R disc is $19.99, and it shoots all the way up to $59.99 for a 100 GB BD-RE (rewriteable). Obviously that’s way out of any reasonable consumer’s price range, but hopefully some early adopters will enjoy the new format and its extravagant prices will come down before the PS3 brings the format mainstream for both games and movies.

Here’s some press-release babble; click below for the full press release with all the specs, and links to a bit more coverage.

“TDK is pleased to be the first to market with bare Blu-ray Disc media, which can be counted among the most significant product introductions in the company’s distinguished 70 year history,” noted Bruce Youmans, TDK Vice President of Marketing.

Press Release from TDK
TDK Blu-ray media now shipping [Joystiq]

EARLIER: Our take on the raging battle between Blu-ray and HD-DVD.

PS3 needs to tighten its belt

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

From the rumor mill: PS3 is too big to fit in its case, Sony’s still bidding on parts, and the OS might take up tons of memory.

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Thanks to reports from a few different sources, things aren’t looking any better for PS3 development today than they have been for the last few months. The newest updates center around the system being too big for its britches, and still very much unfinished.

• The Inquirer tells a tale of a PS3 that’s far behind in development because Sony is still bidding on parts and the system is too big to fit in the case that’s been on display at all the trade events.

We are about six months from launch, and debugging should be done, prototypes and dev kits should flow like water, and all the tame magazines should already have one. The situation is rather different though, they are nowhere, and there are two related reasons behind this.

• Meanwhile, our friends over at PS3 Portal have broken some news about the PS3’s operating system, particularly the fact that it uses a ton of memory and processing power and runs constantly in the background of every game. Based on PS3 Portal’s numbers, which it obtained from unnamed industry sources, the difference compared to the requirements to run Xbox 360’s similar OS is quite dramatic and quite discouraging. Check out all the big numbers right here.

Sony Playstation 3 is far from complete [The Inquirer]
Exclusive - Inside the PS3 - Updated [PS3 Portal]

Shortage economics = bad news for you

Thursday, April 13th, 2006

We already know there’s going to be a PS3 shortage when the system launches worldwide in November. Is there any answer?

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Joystiq has posted an insightful — and depressing — conversation with a mom & pop gaming retailer on the economics of a console shortage. When the Xbox 360 was in extraordinarily scarce supply last holiday season, the store owner stopped selling 360s on his shelves, and put them all on eBay. He fetched double the retail value on all of those units, and apparently plans to do the same thing with the PlayStation 3.

We already know that the first month’s worldwide shipment of PS3s will be about 1 million, which means the U.S. and Canada will probably get a little less than half of that (the rest will go to Japan and Europe). Although Sony’s production plans put it a little bit ahead of the Xbox 360’s disastrous launch shortage, there’s still no question that there will be far too few PS3s for the first few months it’s on the market.

So what do we do? Is there any way for consumers, retailers or manufacturers to solve this problem, or should we just accept it and get in line, like we do for a sold-out blockbuster film? During the Xbox shortage, one of our favorite online mags ran a series on Xbox economics (part 1, part 2), which started off with a premise we know all too well:

Yet, for economists, the Xbox 360 crisis is more alarming than a conspiracy, because these supply shortages make no economic sense whatsoever. Despite their suspicious regularity, the shortages benefit nobody.

The series offers up a few suggestions, like raising the retail price or selling the whole first shipment directly through auctions, so that Sony/Microsoft can pocket the difference, rather than giving it to guys like Joystiq’s local game retailer. It also applies a nice quote from Napoleon on the whole conspiracy theory thing: “Never attribute to conspiracy that which can be explained by incompetence.”

It’s that incompetence that will prevent Sony from experimenting with our favorite shortage-busting plan: launch in the summer. Hardcore, early-adopting gamers obviously make up an important part of PS3 sales, but Best Buy is swamped because parents need a Christmas present, and a next-gen console is the coolest new thing.

If Sony could have actually achieved a spring or summer launch, as they had planned, they might have seen less of a rush from the holiday-shopping crowd. And although that wouldn’t alleviate the lines at the store, it’d take away the “I didn’t get what I wanted for Christmas” aspect of it all, which is the horror that causes grown men and women to get in fistfights over Tickle Me Elmos.

Launch it in June, and by the time the holidays roll around, there will be so many PS3s on shelves that every little kid in the world will be happy. And maybe we won’t get extorted by store owners!

Mom & Pop plot to screw you out of a PS3… and put food on their table [Joystiq]

PS3 at E3: Not so much?

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Rumor has it that playable PS3 kiosks will be in limited supply at the biggest gaming expo of the year.

FULL STORY:

In news that matters way more for members of the media than for the average gamer, Spong has been reporting that numerous sources say that Sony will have very few playable PS3’s on the floor for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, leading to long lines and perhaps scores of disappointed nerds. We would let this slide, but coupled with the whole booth babe elimination thing, it’s pure blasphemy!

Sony insists that everything is cool. Here’s what they have to say:

“We are expecting big queues to see the PlayStation 3 and so will be taking great care to manage the crowds in the best way possible. All press will certainly have no problems seeing everything we are showing. This year is going to be huge for us. Not just in terms of what we’re showing, but in the major announcements we have planned.”

God, we love it when people say “queue.” See ya in line!

PS3 at E3? Scarcely… [Guardian]

Who wants a cheaper PS2?

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Analysts are suggesting that Sony will cut the price of the PS2 to $129 ahead of next month’s E3 Expo.

FULL STORY:

If you’re in the market for a new PS2, it might be wise to wait a few more weeks — industry analysts are saying that Sony will probably slash the price a few extra bucks to build momentum for the PS3 craze that is sure to envelop this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo. Expect an original Xbox price drop fast on the heels of Sony’s decision.

Here’s what the analyst had to say:

“In our opinion, hardware price cuts are necessary not only to drive demand at the end of a console cycle, but also to bring the current-generation consoles within reach of more value-oriented customers,” wrote Sebastian.

Price cut imminent for the PS2? [CNN Money]

360 Roundup: It’s OK, we’re pre-law

Wednesday, April 12th, 2006

Microsoft and a number of other computer manufacturers are getting sued by Lucent Technologies for patent infringement — are they in trouble?

FULL STORY:

• Microsoft now joins Dell and Gateway as defendants in patent lawsuits filed by Lucent Technologies, which claims that the companies infringed on a Lucent patent for a certain type of MPEG encoding.

Lucent wants all Xbox 360s pulled from the shelves because they use the type of encoding in question, and you can bet they’re gunning for some mad cash money in damages, too. Who knows what will happen if Microsoft loses the case — having to pull every 360 and make major changes in production would be very bad news. [ITWeek]

• Word on the street in Asia is that Microsoft plans to double their orders from the Taiwanese companies that manufacture the Xbox 360’s computer chip. That means they’re aiming to ship 3 million 360’s in the second quarter this year, which would just about double their first quarter numbers. [Forbes]

Bootleg PS3 videos from the GDC

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

Yes! Gameplay! Spinning cameras around paused game environments! Some fine young gents have posted it all, so check out the wonders.

FULL STORY:

Bootleg videos of the PS3 displays at the Game Developers Conference abound on YouTube, so check it out and enjoy footage of Warhawk, Lair, Heavenly Sword, a car being destroyed, a space-world with flying cars, and about 400 related videos.

PS3 GDC Gameplay Videos [YouTube]

Roundup: PS3 Delay Coverage

Tuesday, April 11th, 2006

Oh, we’re back for the attack. The PS3, on the other hand, won’t be around for a few months longer than expected.

FULL STORY:

After a long but fruitful hiatus which included a trip halfway across the country, lots of Texan hotness and a good amount of loungin’, PS3week is back. We’re never leaving the blogosphere again!

So here’s a roundup of all the action since we’ve been gone — most notably, coverage from around the web of Sony’s announcement that the PS3 won’t hit the market until November.

The Big News: On March 15, Sony announced that the PS3 would make a worldwide launch in the first 10 days of November 2006. That means it’ll be late for Japan, which was originally expected to get the system this spring, though that hasn’t been realistic for some time now. It’s about on par for the United States, where it will debut just in time for the holiday shopping season. And it’s early for Europe, which until now wasn’t expected to see the PS3 until early 2007.

So, as we said last month, a worldwide fall launch — despite the fact that it’s a delay — really doesn’t hurt Sony that much, and is certainly a boon for European gamers. Sony also claims to be able to produce 1 million units a month by November, which would probably prevent any serious, Xbox 360-esque shortage. But considering how big the demand will be in the U.S. and Japan, and factoring Europe in the mix to receive a few hundred thousand units a month, the system will likely be sold out for quite some time. Get your pre-orders as soon as possible.

Here’s some more commentary we’ve dug up about the launch. Enjoy, and stay tuned for continuous updates… starting now!

Mercury News: Will the delay tank the industry?
CNN Money: Is the delay A good thing?

Sony Debunks PS3 Price Rumors

Monday, April 10th, 2006

Despite a plethora of rumors swirling around the Internet, Sony has adamantly denied PS3’s high cost at launch.

FULL STORY:

Amid speculation that the PlayStation 3 would launch this fall with a price point anywhere from $600-$800 stateside, Sony has rejected these rumors, saying the PS2 successor will be value-priced when considering the technology. Rumors ran rampant earlier this week as several credible web sites began interpreting comments from Georges Fornay, head of Sony Computer Entertainment France, who hinted that the PS3 could cost between 499-599 Euros.

“Mr. Fornay explained that, with BD and HD functionality, PS3 at this price would be cheap for such functionality, but that current video games machines were significantly below this price. At no time did he suggest or indicate a specific price point or price range for PS3, and any reports that he did so are incorrect,” said SCEE corporate communications director Nick Sharples. “He summarized by saying that PS3 would be expensive when one looked at the current price of a video games machine, at far below 500 Euros, but extremely good value when looking at the BD and HD technology inside.”

It’s a safe bet that the console will be priced to sell, well under the rumored $600. An official announcement from Sony is expected to come at their annual press conference preceding the E3 Expo next month in Los Angeles.