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PlayStation 3 in November

After months of speculation, Sony announced Wednesday that the launch of its PlayStation 3 will be delayed until November. Since last summer, Sony has said the PS3 would launch in the spring. This seemed increasingly unlikely as the months went by and manufacturing hadn’t started and game developers hadn’t received final hardware. Sony revealed that the delay was necessary to finalize its new Blu-ray format’s copy protection scheme.

Other details were released as well: The PS3 will roll out at the same time globally, it will have a built-in 60 GB hard drive, there will be a free entry-level online network, and Sony says it will have six million systems manufactured by March 2007. These plans should help ensure that the PS3 compares favorably with its competition, the Xbox 360–from the 360’s optional hard drive, the successful Xbox Live online network (whether the free service or the enhanced Gold version you pay for), to Microsoft’s manufacturing shortage on the system.

What Sony did not spell out was price. With media reports that the manufacturing cost for the PS3 was somewhere between $700 and $900, speculation was rampant about what the final price would be: $400? $500? $600?! The real figure could be revealed at next week’s Game Developers Conference, where Sony Computer Entertainment’s Worldwide Studios’ President Phil Harrison is giving the keynote. To avoid losing ground to Microsoft, Sony will likely have to keep the price in the $399 tp $499 range. But until that price tag is revealed, the future of next-gen gaming remains unclear.KO