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PlayStation 3 to launch worldwide in November

Legacy support, HDD, online...

Sony boss Ken Kutaragi has confirmed plans for a worldwide release of PlayStation 3 in "early November" at a press conference in Tokyo, which has now concluded. And by worldwide he means Asia, Europe, North America and Australia.

PlayStation 3 will also be fully backwards compatible with PS2 and PSone games, Kutaragi said, and all of them will be playable in "high-definition" resolutions.

All PlayStation 3 releases will be on Blu-ray, he added, while the system will support the latest HDMI inputs.

Contrary to earlier reports, the Sony boss also said that PS3 would require a hard disk. The basic model will be a 2.5" 60GB, upgradeable hard disk, featuring a Linux OS (unexplained), and - more interestingly - will apparently act as a home server, allowing users to store media on it and access them from elsewhere. This is effectively the opposite of what Xbox 360 does.

Kutaragi also spoke about the PS3's online service. Although he doesn't appear to have been jumping up and down shouting "Live killer", it sounds comparable from the outline reported by journalists at the conference, with a "basic" service available free of charge, community tools including lobby matchmaking and voice chat, and premium downloadable services that include game software you can run from the hard drive.

Sony's aiming to ship six million units this financial year (earlier direct reports used the phrase "by the end of 2006", but we now understand Kutaragi referenced Sony's financial year, which ends in March 2007), at the rate of one million units per month from release onward (which still doesn't quite make sense unless they kick off with two million, but then pinches of salt ought to be handed out at the door when it comes to "Sony" and "dates").

Final development kits will apparently ship to developers in June, which could imply that manufacturing will begin at around that time too - Sony will certainly be wanting to ramp up early after witnessing the response to Microsoft's Xbox 360 stock problems last Christmas.

There was no discussion of PS3 game software, or hardware pricing, at Wednesday's press conference, so it now looks certain that we'll learn about what we can expect to pay and play this November when Sony gathers us all together again at its pre-E3 press conference in just under a couple of months.

Sources - IGN, Reuters