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PlayStation2 due in U.S. this fall
LOS ANGELES (IDG) -- On the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo here, Sony announced it will release its PlayStation2 game console in the United States in October, priced at $299.
Kazuo Hirai, president and chief operating officer of Sony of America, demonstrated new features of the Playstation2, configured for the U.S. market. Its Japanese sibling -- which has sold more than 1.8 million units since its launch in March -- lacks many of the extras.
Sony may have made the changes in response to Microsoft's announced X-Box console, which will ship with a hard drive and an Ethernet connection. The U.S. PS2 will contain an expansion bay roomy enough to house a 3.5-inch hard drive as well as a network adapter.
"We want it to lead the broadband revolution," Hirai says. "This PlayStation 2 with the bay is the unit that will be available for the North American market."
In addition, the capability to play DVD movies will be hard-wired into the North American PS2.
"It will not require a memory card for DVD playback" as does the Japanese version, Hirai says.
The $299 price tag is the same as that of the original PlayStation when it was released in 1995, Hirai points out. A Dualshock 2 analog controller will come with every unit. Sony expects to have 1 million units available at launch. Hirai estimates sales of 3 million by first quarter 2001.
The hardware launch will coincide with what Hirai calls the largest software launch in history. Immediate selection will include games from Sony as well as various other vendors. Sony's titles will retail for around $49, again, the same price that PlayStation games carried in 1995.
The PS2 is expected to be a major launch in the U.S., not just as a game-playing machine, but as an entertainment system centerpiece. Sony clearly has high hopes. As Hirai put it, "The PlayStation2 will not be the future of video game entertainment. It will be the future of entertainment, period."
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