Sony's E3 plans laid bare

Sensational Sony leak reveals PS3X, PS Two and digital distribution by 2006...

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has revealed that it plans to release several new consoles, including a PSX-style PS3 for 6-700 Euros, a slimmed down PlayStation 2 dubbed the PS Two, and also confirmed that it intends to kick off digital distribution on the PS3 as early as 2006.

In a sensationally candid interview originally posted (in error) on Sony's official website some two weeks ago, but pulled today in bizarre fashion after Eurogamer reported on the story this morning, SCEE president and COO David Reeves spelled out the firm's plans to eventually re-release the PS2 as a slimmed down 'PS Two', and that it 'may' offer the PlayStation 3 in a home server 'PSX' style, or a much cheaper standalone gaming version.

He also revealed that: "[probably]... games will come out with no regional coding" on the PSP handheld console. Any PSP movies, however, will probably have to remain region protected, even if Hollywood decides to back the UMD format for distribution, although there may be other incentives to buying movies this way. "I think they will come up with quite a few surprises," Reeves said of his colleagues, "so that you'd want to buy a movie on UMD as well as having it on DVD. Maybe."

On the PlayStation 3 front, Reeves said it would be "intrinsically linked with PSX", "also there might be a normal PS3 for gamers, who just want to play the movies and have better games." The "home server" version of PlayStation 3, which has "all-singing, all-dancing features with maybe a hard disk drive", could retail for "whatever it might be, €600 or €700" according to Reeves, while the alternative might be for people who "just [want] to pay 200 Euros for a new generation games machine".

Meanwhile, Reeves also spelled out SCEA's E3 plans, and indicated that PSX and PSP might not be alone on the podium. "Something we haven't talked about, is that we made a change from PlayStation to PSone, so we may, in the course of time, make some cosmetic changes to PlayStation 2 and come out with something that's a little bit sexier, but probably no changes to specs or anything like that." No surprises there, but this is certainly the first time Sony has gone on record to confirm such a plan.

Unsurprisingly, Reeves came out strongly in defence of the PSP as its own product and not a Game Boy replacement. "It's not, as people have said, a new Game Boy," he said. "There are so many other features that you can add onto it, whether it's GPS or GPRS even."

As for games development: "Emulators are out, and I think dev kits will probably go out in March or April - the full dev kits, with analysers and things like that." Asked about concerns over the PSP's memory allocation, Reeves confirmed "it will have 30MB of RAM, now, which it didn't have before." He also admitted that the PSP concept image we've all seen was just that. "I think it was made of fibreglass or something like that. I honestly don't know if it'll look like that or not."

The Sony Europe boss also commented on the power of the handheld, responding, when asked if it would fit between the two existing Sony formats in terms of power, "That's about where it is," before adding "I think what Phil [Harrison] would say is that people who get an early start - probably someone like Square - will take it beyond PS2."

Looking further ahead, Reeves spoke about Sony's "ultimate goal" for PlayStation 3 - "to get into electronic broadband distribution". By 2006, at which point Reeves says all Sony's current crop of hardware products should be available, the platform holder hopes we'll have always online access and viable broadband distribution. "It's going to have to be 2 or 3MB, something like that," he said. "Ken [Kutaragi]'s even talking about 30MB! And when it gets to that, then it is broadband distribution, and people then can just download whatever game they want. But it's got to be secure, and that's where DNAS [Sony's online security protocol] comes in."

The fact that all this solid gold news went undetected on Sony's own official website beggars belief, but now that the story has reached a wider audience, it will be fascinating to see Sony’s 'official' official response – tellingly, Sony’s own PR knew nothing of the interview when quizzed earlier today. How very embarrassing, and fun...

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Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed

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Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.

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