The PlayStation 3 (commonly abbreviated PS3) is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game systems.
A major feature that distinguishes the PlayStation 3 from its predecessors is its unified online gaming service, the PlayStation Network, which contrasts with Sony's former policy of relying on games developers for online play. Other major features of the console include its robust multimedia capabilities, connectivity with the PlayStation Portable, and its use of a next-gen optical media, Blu-ray Disc, as its primary storage medium.
The PlayStation 3 was first released on November 11, 2006, in Japan, November 17, 2006 in North America, and March 23, 2007 in Europe and Oceania, with two stock keeping units (SKUs): a basic model with a 20 GB hard disk drive (HDD), and a premium model with a 60 GB HDD and several additional features. (The 20 GB model was not released in Europe or Oceania.) Since then, the console has had several revisions made to its available SKUs and has faced stiff competition from the other seventh generation consoles. As of December 20, 2007, the PS3 is in third place in home console sales for its generation.
Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation 3 to the public on May 16, 2005, during the E3 2005 conference. A functional version of the system was not present there nor at the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005, although demonstrations (such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots) were held at both events on devkits and comparable PC hardware. Video footage based on the predicted PlayStation 3 specifications was also shown (e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam).
The system was initially planned to have two HDMI ports, three Ethernet ports and six USB ports, though, as shown at E3 2006, this was later reduced to one HDMI port, one ethernet port and four USB ports, presumably to cut costs. Also announced were two configurations of the console, a "60 GB" and "20 GB", for $599/€599 and $499/€499 respectively. The 60 GB would be the only configuration to feature a HDMI port, Wi-Fi internet, flash card readers, and a chrome trim with the logo in silver. It was announced for a global release date, November 11 for Japan and November 17 for North America and Europe.
On September 6, 2006, Sony announced that the PAL region (Europe and Oceania) PlayStation 3 launch would be delayed until March 2007 due to a shortage of diodes used in the Blu-ray Disc drive.
At the Tokyo Game Show on September 22, 2006, Sony announced that it would be including HDMI on the 20 GB system with a silver logo, but not the chrome trim, flash card readers, or Wi-Fi. Also, the launch price of the Japanese 20 GB model was reduced by over 20% and the 60 GB model was announced for an open pricing scheme in Japan. During the event, Sony showed 27 playable PS3 titles running on final hardware.
The PlayStation 3 received generally unfavorable reviews soon after its launch, with many websites and reviewers criticizing its high price and lack of top-quality games. However, after a series of price drops and the release of several quality titles, the system has begun to receive better reviews.
The PS3 was given the number-eight spot on PC World magazine’s list of "The Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006," where it was criticized for being "Late, Expensive, and Incompatible." Also, GamesRadar ranked the PS3 as the top item in a feature about game-related PR disasters, asking how Sony managed to "take one of the most anticipated game systems of all time and — within the space of a year — turn it into a hate object reviled by the entire internet", but added that despite its problems the system had "untapped potential." Business Week summed up the general opinion by stating that it was "more impressed with what [the PlayStation 3] could do than with what it currently does."
Some journalists judged that the relative ease with which it was possible to buy a PlayStation 3 in stores in the U.S. and Japan soon after its launch, compared with the scarcity of the Wii, was evidence of lukewarm consumer demand for the system. In addition, there were reports that some Japanese retailers discounted the system as early as January 2007 to stimulate demand. In an interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, SCEA Chief of Operations Jack Tretton scoffed at the assertion that PS3s were not flying off store shelves, telling the interviewers, "If you can find a PS3 anywhere in North America that's been on shelves for more than five minutes, I'll give you 1,200 bucks for it." In response, Penny Arcade's Gabe and Tycho demanded a reward of $13,200 after finding eleven PS3s in stores near their home town.
Despite all the bad press, several websites have given the system very good reviews. CNET United Kingdom praised the PlayStation 3 saying, "the PS3 is a versatile and impressive piece of home-entertainment equipment that lives up to the hype ... the PS3 is well worth its hefty price tag." CNET also awarded it a score of 8.8 out of a possible 10 and voted it as its number one "must-have" gadget, praising its robust graphical capabilities and stylish exterior design while criticizing its limited selection of available games.
In addition, both Home Theater Magazine and Ultimate AV have given the system's Blu-ray playback very favorable reviews, stating that the quality of playback exceeds that of many current standalone Blu-ray players. Also, the Convergence Panel of the European Imaging and Sound Association recognized the PS3 as the best media center product in the 2007/2008 award year.
Hexus Gaming reviewed the PAL version and summed the review up by saying, "...as the PlayStation 3 matures and developers start really pushing it, we’ll see the PlayStation 3 emerge as the console of choice for gaming." At GDC 2007, Shiny Entertainment founder Dave Perry stated, "I think that Sony has made the best machine. It's the best piece of hardware, without question."