A couple of our readers sent in this leaked memo from SCEE, Sony Computer Entertainment’s European branch. If the information is correct Sony plans to make two million PS3s by launch time and production of the new consoles will begin this summer. Also the memo claims that all Playstation 3 games are region free, a huge plus for the console. Check past the jump for the full Q&A.
Playstation 3 / E3 2006 QA
– PS3 is a computer system
– PS3 is one product with different configuration
– PS3 launch date : Nov 11 (Japan), Nov 17 (US/Europe)
– PS3 price : 20GB : JPY 59,800, USD499, EUR499 (incl. VAT) / 60GB : JPY Open, USD599, EUR599 (incl. VAT)
PS3 Business Strategy
Q1. Why will you launch two models with different specs for PS3 ?
A1. PS3 is a computer system and as such, various configurations can be considered. In future, larger HDD may be required for larger content to be saved on PS3. Considering the fact that, nowadays, network connectivity is spreading within the homes, we have decided to introduce a configuration with basic ports. However, these ports, excluding HDMI, are expandable with adaptors available on the market.
Q2. How can users connect PS3 to TV without HDMI output ?
A2. PS3 supports most displays via the AV multi output. Visual quality through AV multi output is comparable to that through HDMI.
Q3. Do you have two color variations of black and silver for two different models ?
A3. This model comes in one color (clear black) only. There may be color variations in the future.
Q4. What is the initial launch quantity for PS3 ?
A4. 2 million units will be shipped worldwide at the launch timing (for the first 3 weeks), cumulative 4 million units by the end of December and cumulative 6 million by the end of March 2007 (we do not disclose the breakdown by region).
Q5. Will you launch the PS3 in the Asian region at the same timing ?
Q6. What is the breakdown of the production shipment figures for each model ?
A6. We will decide the breakdown according to the market situation.
Q7. Are you planning to launch another model which has different HDD or interface in the future ?
A7. Like PCs, other configuration with the different HDD capacity and I/O can be considered in the future.
Q8. Where will you start manufacturing PS3 ?
A8. We will start manufacturing in Japan and China simultaneously (we don’t disclose the names of manufacturing companies).
Q9. When will you start manufacturing PS3 ?
A9. We will start assembly from summer. Manufacturing of the main semiconductors has already started.
Q10. MS’s Xbox360 was launched a year ago and has a head start. How do you feel about it ?
A10. We have set the best launch timing for PS3.
Q11. How is the PS3 network service going to be ? Will you also start the service from day one ? What are the differences between Xbox Live and PS3 network services ?
A11. Apart from providing basic features and functions, the most important element is content and services. Downloading music in SingStar, purchasing or exchanging game data as we demonstrated at E3 press conference and many other new ways of enjoyment will be provided.
Q12. Will the network service be charged ?
A12. Basic services available free for current PCs will be free of charge but content and specific services will be charged from the beginning.
Q13. Are the specifications and design final ?
A13. Very close to final.
Q14. Why did you set such a price for 20GB HDD model ?
A14. We have set this price so that many users can enjoy PS3.
Q15. Why is only 60GB model open price for Japan ?
A15. Each RHQ decides the price of PS3.
Q16. You have announced in April that more than 100 billion yen of operating loss will be caused from Game segment in FY06. Will the PS3 price have any impact on the forecast ? Was the introduction of two models factored in at the earnings announcement in April ?
A16. There is no change in forecast.
Q17. Won’t having two models increase cost ? Can you expect the economy of scale with two models ?
A17. We don’t have two different models. It is one model with different configuration just like with PCs. Therefore, economy of scale can be pursued.
Q18. When do you expect to start making profit with PS3 business ? It has been reported by Nikkei (dated May 1st) that the "PS3 business will make profit of over 100 billion yen in FY07." Is it true ?
A18. At the early stage after the launch, PS3 expects losses due to start-up cost, etc. However, there is no change in our business model to make profit from both hardware and software. As we have accomplished with PS2, we aim to make PS3 business profitable as soon as possible, by expanding the platform and continuing our cost down measures by reducing the number of components used in the hardware and cutting the cost of key components including semiconductors. However, it’s too early to comment on the timing of the turnaround. We have never told Nikkei that "PS3 business will make profit of over 100 billion yen in FY07."
Q19. Are there any additional or modified features from E3 last year ?
A19. Please refer to the specification sheet for details.
Q20. You had previously announced that there would be two HDMI ports, but why does the PS3 with the 20GB HDD not have a HDMI port ? Can Blu-ray content be enjoyed in high quality graphics without HDMI ?
A20. High quality HD images can be enjoyed equally with the 20GB HDD product via the AV multi port (1080p output is also possible with the TV equipped with the D5 input). Analog output from BD will be supported until 2011 and all software published until they can be enjoyed. Standardization of visual image output via home network (e.g. DLNA) is also currently under way.
Q21. There were 2 HDMI ports in your original announcement, but why does the 60GB PS3 have only 1 HDMI port ?
A21. Because standardization of image output over the network such as DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is currently under way, it will become possible to transfer images to multiple displays in ways other than using the HDMI port. It is also possible to connect PSP through the network as a secondary display and enjoy PS3 content remotely (although it depends on the software).
Q22. Can you enjoy progressive images with PS and PS2 titles ?
A22. Not only does PS3 convert images from SD to HD, it also converts interlace to progressive images (upward conversion is done by the PS3 system).
Q23. Can you enjoy full HD PS3 software content with a standard TV ?
A23. Not only does PS3 convert images from SD to HD, it also converts 1080p to 720p (downward conversion is done by the PS3 system).
Q24. Is 60GB HDD large enough for PS3 ?
A24. 60GB is 3 times the capacity of Xbox360 and at the moment we consider it enough to save online game data as well as to transfer various data from other PCs and CE/AV products. If there is need in the future, it is also possible to upgrade storage capacity by exchanging HDD to Serial-ATA 2.5" HDD available on the market.
Q25. Why isn’t 20GB PS3 equipped with Memory Stick/SD Memory card/Compact Flash slots ?
A25. PS3 is a computer system. Storage devices can be expanded by using adaptors available on the market.
Q26. The 20GB PS3 does not come with Wi-Fi 802.11, but does this mean that it cannot be connected to PSP ?
A26. Home networking is spreading around the world. With the use of widely available wireless LAN adaptor with USB port, connection to PSP is possible.
Q27. Why did you reduce the number of USB ports from 6 to 4 ?
A27. PS3 is a computer system. Number of ports can be expanded by using adaptors available on the market.
Q28. Why did you reduce the number of Ethernet ports from 3 to 1 ?
A28. We had one input (WAN) and two outputs (LAN) in mind, but given that nowadays network connection is spreading within the homes, we considered that one Ethernet connection to a router would be sufficient.
Q29. Will Linux OS be adopted as you have planned ?
A29. Yes. PS3 is a computer system and Linux OS is adopted as one of the standard OSes.
Q30. How much noise reduction level have you achieved ?
A30. Approximately 29dB (A) (equivalent to slim-line PS2).
Q31. You mention that PS3 adopts a breakthrough six-axis sensing system that lets you control intuitively as if the controller has become part of your body. How does this work ?
A31. "3-posture-axis" of roll, pitch and yaw, plus "3-dimension acceleration information (X, Y and Z)" can be detected in high-precision and in real-time (no more specific details to be given).
Q32. Why did you change the design of the controller to that of PS and PS2 ?
A32. We received many feedback after E3 last year and created the PS3 controller by refining and improving the world’s most popular Playstation controller that shipped more than several hundred million units worldwide, while inheriting its basic concept and design.
Q33. Can the new features be enjoyed with all PS3 titles ?
A33. It depends on the title, but we expect that software developers would proactively make use of the new PS3 controller.
Q34. You say that PS3 provides backward compatibility of PS and PS2 titles, but would you insist that you offer complete backward compatibility even if vibration feature does not work ?
A34. There is no major difference in gameplay even without the vibration feature. We hope a lot of users will support the new PS3 controller with new ways of enjoyment.
Q35. The controllers shown at the booth are all wired, but will the actual product be wireless ?
A35. Yes. We are using wired controllers since there is too much interference with so many wireless devices on the show floor.
Q36. Will PSP be used as a remote controller ?
A36. We will consider the possibility.
Q37. We hear rumors from software developers that there are not enough development tools being shipped. Is this true ?
A37. As evident with many game titles demonstrated at E3, development of PS3 titles is duty in progress.
Q38. How much is the estimated price range of the software titles for PS3 ? Is it the same price as PS2 ?
A38. As a platform holder, we are not in a position to comment on this. As a first party title developer/publisher, we assume a wider price range since software can be delivered through various media including packaged discs and network.
Q39. Are all titles shown at E3 (press conference and booth) launch titles ?
A39. Many of the playable titles shown at E3 are likely to be released at or around launch. Some titles shown as (demo) video may also become launch titles.
Q40. Do all titles shown at E3 support 1080p ?
A40. "Gran Turismo HD E3 2006" is demonstrated at 1080p with frame rate of 60 frames per second. As for other titles, some are 1080p and some 720p.
Q41. How many launch titles do you expect to have ?
A41. We expect the best launch line-up in history.
Blu-ray Disc (BD)
The PS3 will be one of the first BD players on the market with full "BD Live" capability (the ability to access the internet from within the disc and download additional content to the player’s internal memory – as well as the ability to enjoy unique, "web-enabled" interactive features, such as bringing up web sites, actor information and bios and related topics in windows (picture in picture) whilst continuing to play the main movie.
The marketing tagline for Blu-ray is Beyond High Definition. The key messaging to support this is :
More High-Def Content
90% of major Hollywood studios, the world’s two largest music companies, PLAYSTATION 3 and leading gaming companies all support BD. That means more HD movies, more HD concerts, more HD games and more for you !
More Hi-Def Capabilities
Full 1080p resolution, up to 7.1 channels of surround sound, 50GB of storage capacity, real time internet and network connectivity and interactivity and backwards compatibility with existing DVD libraries.
More Hi-Def Products
Over 85% of the leading consumer electronics companies and the four largest PC brands all support BD.
BD region coding is a simplified version of the DVD region coding system. For BD, the regions are :
Region A – USA and Japan
Region B – Europe, Australia and New Zealand and most of the old PAL territories
Region C – Russia and Asia
BDA specifications stipulate that all BD players, including PLAYSTATION 3, must incorporate region coding and will be single region. It is up to content providers whether or not to apply region coding to their content – all PLAYSTATION 3 games will be region free and will therefore play on any PLAYSTATION 3 regardless of where it was bought.
The technical description of the Controller from the press release is :
"The controller for PS3 employs a breakthrough technology of high-precision, highly sensitive six-axis sensing system that does not require any devices other than the controller itself for seamless interactive operation, thus eliminating additional setting to TVs. With this technology, ways to enjoy PS3 will be further enhanced by accessing PS3 through the network, while retaining the six-axis sensing capability. In addition to "3-posture-axis" of roll, pitch and yaw, "3-dimension acceleration information (X, Y and Z)" can be detected in high-precision and in real-time. In addition to standard key input available in existing controllers, more natural and more intuitive manipulation will become possible as if the controller has become part of your body."
This is an overly technical description, and there is a need to simplify the USP for consumers in terms of features and benefits. The new PS3 controller employs cutting edge technology and is a major and key element of the overall PS3 package.
What this means for users is :
— The new controller for PS3 enables the user to direct characters, vehicles, aircraft and other game elements in the Yaw, Pitch and Roll axes (3 of the six axes mentioned above) without the use of the traditional directional buttons.
— In addition, the controller’s sensors can detect acceleration in each of the above axes (providing the remaining 3 axes), allowing the user to determine the speed of movement of the object being controlled.
— There us no requirement for any additional sensors in front of the display.
— The new controller will also allow users to freely navigate the PS3 controls as well as access, move around and operate the PS3’s navigation system (Cross Media Bar) using the same sensor based control system.
— PS3 will come with a single controller
— Up to 8 controllers can be used
Not all "Day 1" games will employ the innovative features of the controller, but over time, every developer will use the features.
Have you been forced into this "six-axis" approach by losing the "DualShock Vibration" court case against Immersion ?
Not at all. The technology used for the DualShock is now almost 10 years old. Whilst it was revolutionary when PS One launched, technology has moved on, and SCE is always at the forefront of the technology wave. For the PS3 controller, we are using breakthrough technology, right at the cutting edge of what is possible today.
What about the media reports we have seen suggesting that not all PS2 and PS One titles will be backwards compatible ?
Kutaragi San made clear at the Playstation Business Meeting in March that all titles that complied with the TRC (Technical Requirements Checklist) – essentially a blueprint of how to develop a game on the Playstation platform, would be backwards compatible. Nothing has changed from that statement.
In a few instances, developers have applied short cuts or workrounds in the development process to extract the maximum performance from their games. In some cases, these may be not fully comply with the TRC and additional work may be required to make these titles compatible. Our target nevertheless remains 100% backwards compatibility.
The lack of a vibration function when playing PS One or PS2 games on the PS3 does not affect the gameplay (and we can therefore say that there is full backwards compatibiliy).
SCEE E3 MESSAGING DOCUMENT
This document provides some potentially useful sound bites and perspectives on the announcements to be made at E3. It is not exhaustive, and should be read in conjunction with the PS3 Q&A. The key points about PS3 are :
— PS3 is being positioned as a computer system, and not a computer entertainment system. Like other computer systems, it can be upgraded through the use of readily available industry standard adaptors.
— There will therefore be two initial configurations of PS3, not two versions.
— With the exception of the HDMI socket, every aspect of the 20GB model can be upgraded using readily available, industry standard adaptors.
— No SCEE decision has yet been taken on the splut of PS3 configurations for the SCEE market.
How would you position the difference between the two versions of the PS3 announced this week ?
Firstly, the PS3 is a computer system. There may be two configurations but the key elements are standard – Blu-ray disc, Cell chip, Giga-bit Ethernet to provide an always-on connection to the network, and a pre-installed hard disk drive (HDD) as standard.
The difference between the two versions is more to do with the customer who will buy the PS3. The 60GB HDD version comes fully-equipped to exploit the very latest in HD display technology. It also has a full suite of interfaces (I/O connections), including an HDMI connection which will allow it to support full HD (1080i/1080p) flat panel displays. This version is positioned at the consumer who has either adopted HD, or who is planning tu upgrade to HD display technology in the next few years.
We also recognise that there are many potential PS3 owners out there who are either happy with the quality of their existing TV, or have perhaps recently upgraded to a digital TV and do not plan to upgrade further for the time being – for them an HDMI socket is not essential. For these customers, who will not initially need the PSP/PS3 wireless connectivity, the 20GB version may be more appropriate, and will be better value.
Like other computer systems, it is possible to upgrade the configuration of the PS3. For both models, it is possible to upgrade the hard disk to any industry standard Serial-ATA 2.5" HDD.
For those with the 20GB version, owners who wish to utilise Memory Stick/SD Memory Card/Compact Flash slots or Wi-Fi 802.11 connectivity to PSP can make use of widely available USB wireless LAN adaptors and other industry standard adaptors. Note : The only non upgradeable element of the 20GB version is the HDMI slot, which can not be added later.
PS3 games will look brilliant on a standard TV, but stunning when viewed on a HD display.
The issue of connectivity between the PS3 and the display is very complex and depends on the type of TV (Analog, Digital or HD Ready), the maker of TV (until recently, only Toshiba TVs have component AV connections as standard in Europe, most other Euro TV sets use SCART which can not carry an HD signal) and specification of TV (the very latest HD Ready TV sets have wider connectivity options than earlier HD "capable" TVs from the same manufacturer which may have lacked HDMI), and finally the configuration of the PS3 model purchased.
The issue of which cables to supply with the different configurations of PS3 has yet to be decided.