Sony E3 2006 Press Conference

With the Xbox 360 already out and the Nintendo Revolution to be displayed on Tuesday at Nintendo’s E3 press conference, Sony took Monday evening’s press conference to focus almost exclusively on the next-generation of gaming. Sony still claims that the next-generation does not start until they say it starts. In other words, the Xbox 360 is a prelude to the real show. Instead of making you wait like Sony did, lulling through their usual boring presentation, I am going to spare you the hardship by revealing the biggest news right off the bat (don’t worry though, plenty of details below).

The PlayStation 3 will launch in two different configurations: a 20 gig and 60 gig HDD. The system will launch in Japan on November 11, 2006. The North American launch will be followed on November 17 for a price of $499 (20 gig) and $599 (60 gig). Europeans won’t be left in the cold, as the PlayStation 3 is set to launch simultaneously with America on November 17 at a price of $499 Euros and $599 Euros, respectively. 2 million units are expected at launch, 4 million by year’s end and 6 million by March 2007. If you thought the Xbox 360 shortages were bad, you haven’t seen anything.

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The press conference (as Sony almost always does) was filled with numbers. Over 103 million PS2’s shipped worldwide, 17 million PSP’s shipped worldwide and 3 million online users on PS2 since 2002 (roughly the same as Xbox Live). With the PlayStation 3, Sony hopes to bridge offline gamers of present to the online world with free service. The feature-rich Xbox Live service will be translated on PlayStation 3 with voice messaging, text messaging, video messaging, friends list, user profile and more, but again, all free.

As Sony originally wanted to do with Gran Turismo 4, announcing it a couple E3’s ago, micro-transactions are back on Sony’s radar. Various methods of payment will be utilized, including credit cards and pre-paid “PlayStation Cardsâ€? to be offered at retailers to allow micro-transactions. These micro-transactions could be a weapon, level or car in a game. SingStar will allow for music video download to your HDD, allowing you to compare your performances with that of the stars. Finally, e-distribution will be utilized for PlayStation downloads onto the PSP memory stick duo. Ridger Racer was the game that was played on-stage.

Of course, the stars of the show were the games. A revised Gran Turismo 4 that included HD support called Gran Turismo HD was on display. The people at Sony hope to release a next-generation Gran Turismo shortly after the PS3 launch. There’s no word on “Gran Turismo Visionâ€? that was shown at last year’s E3 and whether that will be the name or not. They also announced that beta testing for an online Gran Turismo 4 would begin shortly after E3.

First-party ames they showed videos of include Lair (in which dragons are flying around), The Getaway, an Afrika video, showing all sorts of animals roaming the open including lion and zebra and a new Hot Shots Golf. Ted Price of Insomniac Games shows off a FPS, based in an alternate 1950’s England, the last democratic European country, called Resistance: Fall of Man, featuring online multi-player for up to 32.

So far, the third party titles in development, announced at the press conference include: Assassins’ Creed, Gundam, Coded Arms Assault, Ridge Racer 7, Brother’s In Arms: Hell’s Highway, Tekken 6, Sonic the Hedgehog, Virtua Tennis 3, Virtua Fighter 5, Stranglehold, Fatal Inertia, Armored Core 4.10 titles pledged from EA this fall, including Army of Two, Madden NFL 07, NBA Live 07, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07, Need for Speed Carbon, Medal of Honor: Airborne and Fight Night Round 3.

EA CEO Larry Probst speaks about next-gen plans “more than 1,000 people” developing games for the PlayStation 3 and shows demos of NBA Live with freedom of movement (360 degrees) and actual footwork instead of sliding “bringing athletes to life”. A Tiger Woods demo shows facial expressions and body shot of Tiger Woods rendered in real-time on PlayStation 3.

Finally, the PS3 controller. Who’d have thunk that it would be Sony that would surprise us with a controller announcement? The final PS3 controller will be much like the PS2 analog design-wise, but will have a significant twist. As Nintendo predicted the competition would do, Sony has stolen the Revolution controller idea by implementing controller feedback through movement, though the speakers acted as if the idea was completely new and originated at Sony. Unlike the Revolution, however, it is not 360 degrees, but instead has six degrees of movement. The PS3 controller is wireless, lighter than the PS2 controller and Bluetooth compatible.

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