PS3 Delayed. Again.
The curse of the worldwide launch strikes again. Yesterday, as eager fans across Europe and Australasia counted down the 71 days until the PlayStation3 launch, Sony issued a press release:
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced that it would revise the launch date of its PLAYSTATION® 3 computer entertainment system in the PAL territories of Europe, Russia, Middle East, Africa and Australasia from 17th November 2006, as previously announced to March 2007.
Launch dates for Japan and North America will remain the same, which are November 11th and November 17th respectively.
The revision of the launch date in the SCEE territories is caused by the delay in the mass production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group, thus affecting the timely procurement of key components to be utilised in PLAYSTATION 3.
Reset your clocks. March 2007: that's six months away. Just when PAL gamers were beginning to think they weren't going to be treated as an underclass in the next generation, they get punked again. You can almost hear the echo of Microsoft's "simultaneous worldwide launch" for XBox360. That ended up taking four months to reach Australia after the US launch.
Not surprisingly, yesterday's announcement was not well received. It was only a few months ago that the launch was delayed until November. Yesterday's news that PAL gamers would have to wait until March next year caused an explosion on the Australian Playstation forums, with the forum moderators inexplicably becoming the targets of so much misdirected anger. The European Playstation forums actually went offline, collapsing under the weight of rampaging fanboy lynchmob.
In reality, no-one would be more disappointed than Sony themselves. Kissing goodbye to the Christmas sales across PAL regions has got to hurt. Knowing that they're delivering those sales to Microsoft and Nintendo on a platter would only make the aftertaste that much more bitter.
As revealed in the press release, the low production yields of the blue laser diode (the key component of the PS3's Blu-ray drives) are the reason for the delay. Sony just can't meet their production schedule. While the launch dates for the US and Japan haven't been pushed back, the news isn't good for those regions either. The number of consoles available for launch has been slashed; the US will only have 400,000 available on day one and Japan will have a mere 100,000. The total number of PS3's expected to ship before the end of the calendar year has been halved from 4 million to 2 million.
Sony's dominance is looking increasingly shaky. Xbox360's user-base continues to grow and it's games are steadily improving. Nintendo's Wii looks set to attract sales with it's innovative control scheme and low price point. PlayStation3's high price and late start into the next-gen race could be serious hurdles in Sony's way. If Microsoft were to drop the price of the 360 before Christmas, PS3 would certainly have a hard time gaining market share.
My own plans to pick up a PS3 in Tokyo on November 11 don't look too good now. There won't even be enough PS3's in Japan to cover the pre-orders.
PAL May Cry:
one disappointed fan's reworking of the "This is living" European PS3 slogan.