Chairman and CEO of Sony America, Sir Howard Stringer has confirmed
that the company plans to launch PlayStation 3 in Spring 2006.
The exact details of the launch still remain top secret, leading to
some interesting media speculation. GamesIndustry.biz reports that,
while no specific territory was mentioned in the statement,
“indications are that a Japanese launch would be first – around April
or May, with European and US launches following later in the year, or
early in 2007”.
While it is logical for Sony to launch in their home territory first,
anything less than a near simultaneous worldwide release will be a
severe blow to Sony’s legion of fans outside Japan. Competitor Microsoft plans for a world-wide release of the Xbox 360 this holiday season.
If GI.biz’s theory of a staggered release is correct, it will
certainly make for an interesting 2006. The first
generation Xbox very much struggled for market share in Japan, due to
in part to the different style of games played in that country, but also an
element of distrust of the western Microsoft console versus their
hometown favorite, the PlayStation 2.
The relative lack of success in Japan hurt Microsoft, and they are
using the clean slate of these next-generation console launches to
target the average Japanese gamer more aggressively. They may only get
four or five month’s head start on Sony, but they will do everything
they can to leverage that lead.
Meanwhile, Sony fans in the USA, Europe and other territories may be
put in quite a predicament. The PlayStation 2 is already widely
regarded as technically inferior to Xbox, and while the Xbox 360 vs
PlayStation 3 fight is yet to be decided, the question remains whether
Sony?s fanboys can last six or even twelve months longer for the PS3
to arrive when all their mates are enjoying lush HD gaming on their
If you’re Japanese, the answer is probably “yes”. In a recent survey
of 1000 male & female console owners in Japan revealed that a whopping
72.3% said they would buy a PS3 when it is released. This figure is particularly impressive, given that SCE President Ken Kutaragi has stated
that PlayStation 3 won’t be cheap. “We want
people to feel that they want it, no matter what,” Kutaragri said.
Just 5.8% of Japanese gamers surveyed fancied picking up an Xbox 360
this Christmas. Team Xbox certainly has their work cut out for them.