The PlayStation 3

PlayStation 3
The PlayStation 3 (PS3) was officially unveiled at Sony Computer Entertainment America’s Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference on May 16, 2005. When it was initially announced, Sony stated that it would be part of a longer cycle for consoles, stating that it would be part of a ten year cycle.

Sony initially announced two hardware configurations for the PlayStation 3: The 60GB and the 20GB, though the 40GB, 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 250GB and 320GB configurations have been released since then. The PS3 was announced for a simultaneous worldwide release with a launch date of November 11, 2006 for Japan and November 17, 2006 for the United States and Europe. But due to a shortage of the blue laser diodes used for the Blu-ray Disc drive, the European launch was subsequently delayed to March 23, 2007.

The PS3 uses the Cell Broadband Engine co-developed by Sony, IBM, and Toshiba. Graphics processing is handled by the NVIDIA RSX ‘Reality Synthesizer’, which can output resolutions up to 1080p HD. The PS3 has 256 MB of XDR main memory and 256 MB of GDDR3 video memory for the RSX, for a total of 512 MB system memory.

Since its launch, the PS3 has a worldwide install base of over 80 million units.

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Launch

The system was released in North America on November 17th, 2006 (November 11th in Japan, March 23rd in Europe). The launch of the PlayStation 3 proved to be a rather difficult one for many reasons. One was the high price point for the console; $599 for the 60GB model in the US. Another was the launch line-up and the infamous E3 2006 press conference which failed to impress gamers, and instead started many internet memes, like Giant enemy crab and Massive damage. Finally, the marketing campaign “Play B3yond” was negatively received for its approach and weirdness, mostly concerning a TV spot featuring a plastic baby, laughing and finally crying watching a PS3. The North American launch line-up was the following:

  • Call of Duty 3
  • Genji: Days of the Blade
  • Madden NFL 07
  • Marvel: Ultimate Alliance
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Crossfire
  • NBA 2K7
  • NBA 07
  • Need for Speed: Carbon
  • NHL 2K7
  • Resistance: Fall of Man
  • Ridge Racer 7
  • Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07
  • Tony Hawk’s Project 8
  • Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom

Hardware Configurations

20 GB Model (discontinued)

The Original PlayStation 3 ( non 20gb model)
The Original PlayStation 3 ( non 20gb model)

The 20 GB was available at launch in Japan on November 11th 2006, in North America on November 17th 2006.The 20 GB PS3 has a slot loading 2x speed Blu-ray Disc drive that plays Blu-ray movies, DVDs, CDs, and SACDs. It has built-in Bluetooth 2.0, a Gigabit Ethernet port, 4 USB 2.0 ports, and HDMI 1.3a. The 20GB PS3 also has backwards compatibility with PlayStation 1 & 2 titles through hardware emulation. The 20GB PS3 had an MSRP of $499.99 USD. It was discontinued on April 11th, 2007 due to poor sales compared to the 60 GB.

60 GB Model (discontinued)

The 60GB PS3 was launched in Japan on November 11th 2006, then in North America on November 17th 2006. It has all of the features of the 20GB model plus 802.11b/g Wi-Fi, a multiple flash card reader, and a chrome finish. The original MSRP was $599.99. It was discontinued on July 13th, 2007.

60 GB Model PAL (discontinued)

The PS3 launched with a 60 GB model in Europe on March 23rd 2007. An important difference between the European and American 60 GB model was the backwards compatibility. Unlike the American version, PlayStation 2 backwards compatibility was carried out via hardware and software emulation, foreshadowing the eventual 80GB model. The RRP of this model was €599.

80 GB Model (PS2 backwards compatible, discontinued)

In August 2007, Sony released an 80 GB model of the PS3 in the US, which included backwards compatibility. This was enabled by using software emulation to emulate PS2 games. Because, it was software based, it only allowed for ~60% of PS2 titles to be played with no issues.

40 GB Model (discontinued)

The 40 GB PS3 was launched in Europe/Australia in October 2007 and North America/Japan in November 2007. The 40 GB model had the multiple flash card reader and SACD supported removed, and is not backwards compatible with PlayStation 2 titles but is still compatible with original PlayStation titles. The 40 GB PS3 had a MSRP of $399.99. For a limited time only, Spider-Man 3 was packaged along with the 40 GB model.

80 GB Model (discontinued)

Another 80 GB PS3 was launched in August 2008 in North American and Japan in October 2008. It sports all of the features of the 40 GB model and has an MSRP of $399.99 . At Sony’s Gamescom 2009 keynote, Kaz Harai announced that the standard PS3 pricepoint is to be reduced by $100 to $299.99 as of August 19, which at the time applied to both this and the 160 GB model.

160 GB Model (discontinued)

The 160 GB PS3 was announced at the Leipzig Games Convention in August 2008. The model will be coming to North America in November as part of a bundle which includes Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, a voucher for a free download of PAIN and a DualShock 3 for $499.99. This model will be released in Europe on October 31 for the cost of €499 RRP ($628) but will be packed with €70 ($88) worth of additional DLC.

E3 Model (never released)

Interestingly enough, the original model shown off at the Electronic Expo in 2005 boasted a couple of different features. The original planned configuration was to have at least 2 HDMI ports and up to 6 USB ports (2 ports on the back). This was later cut down to four for the launch and the HDMI ports cut down to one, with the reasoning being that there was actually no need for so many ports. It was shown in three different colors; white, silver, and piano black, but only black was available for launch. It was also sporting the now infamous boomerang controller, but that design was scrapped in favor of the more traditional DualShock design.

Slim 120 GB Model (discontinued)

The PlayStation 3 Slim
The PlayStation 3 Slim

The Slim 120 GB model of the PS3 was announced at Gamescom 2009 by Kaz Harai at Sony’s keynote on August 18. The new model is 33% smaller and 36% lighter, and consumes 34% less power. The Slim shares mostly the same features as the most recent SKU’s. The one notable exception, however, is that the ability to install a second operating system was removed. Also, there was a stand introduced to support it when vertically oriented, similar to the PS2 Slim, though it has been shown to be unnecessary. This model was released on September 1, 2009 at an MSRP of $299.99 in the U.S., £249.99 in the U.K. and €299.99 in the rest of Europe.

Slim 250 GB Model (discontinued)

This is identical to the 120 GB model except for hard drive capacity, and it retailed for $349.99 when released on November 3, 2009 in the U.S. There was also a white Final Fantasy XIII bundle in Japan released on December 17.

Slim 160 GB Model

This is identical to the 120 GB model except for hard drive capacity, and it retailed for $299.99 when released in August 2010 in the U.S.

Slim 320 GB Model

This is identical to the 120 GB model except for hard drive capacity, and it retailed for $349.99 when released on September 19, 2010 in the U.S. This system also comes as a PlayStation Move bundle, including the game Sports Champions.

“Super Slim” 250GB Model

PS3
PS3 “Super Slim”

Announced at TGS 2012 and released on September 25 in North America, the PS3 “Super Slim” is the 3rd and most likely final version of the PS3. it’s less than half the size and weight of the original PS3 and 20 percent less volume and 25 percent less weight of the Slim PS3. It includes a 250GB hard drive and retails for $269 USD. For a limited time, Uncharted 3 game of the year edition and a $30 voucher Dust 514 will be included in the package.

“Super Slim” 500GB Model

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The “Super Slim” 500GB model is exactly the same as the 250GB model, except it has double the hard drive space. It retails for $299 USD and was released in October in North America. For a limited time, Assassins Creed III will be included in the package.

Developer Relations

Developer Kits

The developer kits originally cost $20,000 each, and they were cut down to $10,000 sometime in 2008. Now the PS3 developer kit has been price cut again to $2,000, a drop of 80%.

Sony Pub Fund

At GDC ’09, Sony announced a new initiative for PlayStation Network titles allowing developers to self-publish games on the platform. If you make a downloadable game exclusively for PSN, Sony will guarantee royalties by reimbursing development costs as well as supplying support for game design and marketing. They also insist that the developer will still retain control of the intellectual property and set pricing. Burn Zombie, Burn, was the first title released on PSN under this initiative.

Accessories

What could have been
What could have been

The PlayStation 3 currently has many different first and third party accessories.

Sony first launched the PS3 with the Sixaxis. It charges its built-in lithium ion battery via USB cable and has a battery life of roughly thirty hours fully charged. It connects to the system via Bluetooth and lacks any sort of rumble function. Originally, Sony’s reason for this was that they found the motion control functions of the controller to be more immersive than the rumble function and they were technically unable to combine them at the time. Although it is more likely due to the lawsuit from Immersion. The two games that were used to demonstrate the motion capabilities of the system were Lair and Warhawk.

DualShock 3

DualShock 3
DualShock 3

At its press conference at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, Sony announced the DualShock 3 because despite Sony’s original belief that the controller didn’t need rumble, the fans asked. This was a PlayStation 3 controller with the same function and design as the Sixaxis, but with the vibration capability included. It has a lithium ion battery as well with a battery life of roughly 25 hours, and it charges via USB. Similarly to the Sixaxis, this controller connects to the PlayStation system via Bluetooth. Because of the added functionality of the rumble, the controller weighs more then it’s older brother.

Official PlayStation Bluetooth Headset

The official Sony PS3 headset

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This headset is compatible with cellphones and the PS3. After firmware update 2.50, it supports a visual volume level cue, along with the current battery charge. It comes with a USB docking station used for charging the headset. It can be paired via Bluetooth or USB cable. The headset launched bundled with SOCOM: Confrontation. However, it can also be purchased separately for an MSRP $49.99.

A new version of the headset was released in November 2010. The new features include a smaller and lighter package, noise cancellation, better device compatibility and better transmit and receive sound.

Bluetooth Remote

For those who do not like using the Sixaxis or DualShock controllers while watching their movies can use the standalone Bluetooth remote released by Sony. It has all the functionality of the regular controllers minus the ability to use it while playing a game, and is in a regular controller form.

PlayStation Eye

The PlayStation Eye is the successor to the EyeToy, and is a camera with a built-in microphone array. This accessory was originally packaged with the game The Eye of Judgement. In addition to simply capturing video and audio, it can also be used for motion control.

Wireless Keypad

Keypad attached to the controller
Keypad attached to the controller

A wireless keypad was added as an accessory in December 2008. It is designed for faster text messaging and PS3 compatibility. It is a separate Bluetooth device, with its own battery and it connects to the and sticks over the top side of the DualShock 3 controller. It comes with certain preset buttons for friends list and with a touchpad for “quicker and better” internet browsing. Response to the keypad has been mixed, with some complaints due to its small buttons with no back light and dodgy touchpad.

AC Adapter

Sony PlayStation AC Adapter
Sony PlayStation AC Adapter

The PlayStation AC Adapter is a USB based charger that plugs into an ordinary wall outlet. It’s designed to charge the Sixaxis controller, the DualShock 3 controller, the Bluetooth headset and the wireless keypad, all without the need to turn on your PlayStation. You can also charge your controller while playing your PlayStation, something you can’t do with some other aftermarket controller charging docks. It will also charge the PSP-2000 and PSP-3000. The AC adapter retails in the United States for $24.99 and the United Kingdom for £19.99.

PS3 sound bar

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Released in October, 2010, with a MSRP of $179.99, the official PS3 sound bar is a 2.1 channel audio device that mimics surround sound systems. The system has 2 sound settings “Dynamic” and “Night”. The night setting attempts to enhance key sounds when the volume is low.

Play Television TV Tuner

A TV tuner accessory which connects to the PlayStation 3 and allows the system to be used like a DVR, and record your favorite TV shows directly onto the PlayStation hard drive. This accessory is currently only available in Europe.

PlayStation Move

PlayStation Move
PlayStation Move

At E3 2009, Sony introduced the unnamed motion controller to the mass market via a few impressive tech demos. The wand has a colored orb on top that is tracked by the PlayStation Eye and sensors within, which combine to allow true one-to-one tracking. At Sony’s 2010 GDC keynote, it was announced that the official name would be the PlayStation Move. A sub-controller was also revealed, dubbed the “Navigation Controller.” The navigation controller has no sensors, so a DualShock controller can be used as a substitute for the navigation controller if the user is prepared to deal with the slightly uncomfortable grip one must use to operate the DualShock in conjunction with the wand controller.

Wireless PS3 Stereo Headset

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Planned for release in September 2011, with a MSRP of $99.99. It’s an alternative option to the PS3 sound bar above. It’s a 2 channel system, but simulates 7.1 channel audio. It also has a built in mic for online chat.

PlayStation Network

The PlayStation Network, or PSN, is Sony’s free online service which allows PS3 and PSP owners to communicate with each other, play games, compare trophies, and download content from the PlayStation Store. As well as giving access to the interactive lobby and game launching system, PlayStation Home. Recently, the ability to display your Trophy collections on internet forums was added through the official PlayStation web site. To get this new feature, you sign in with your PSN ID, under the network tab and then it syncs to you PS3 and downloads all the information. From there, you choose your favorite game, your mood, as well as leave a little comment, and then you can post it on any forum as a signature.