Sony's PS3 to hit Europe, Australia on March 23

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) has named the date for the delayed European and Australian launch of its PlayStation 3 games console: March 23.

The console made its global debut in Japan on Nov. 11 and hit the U.S. and a handful of other markets a week later. It had been due to launch in Europe and Australia at about the same time but those plans were put on-hold due to a component shortage.

Customers in territories that use the PAL system (including Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australia) will able to buy the higher specification version of the console for €599 (US$779), £425 (US$840), A$1,000 (US$785) or NZ$1,200 (US$839) in their respective markets.

Those prices are considerably more expensive than in SCEI’s home market where the PlayStation 3 costs ¥59,980 (US$494) and in the U.S. where it costs US$600.

The cheaper version, which is available in Japan and the U.S. for ¥49,980 (US$412) and US$500, respectively, won’t be offered in PAL countries due to “retailer and customer demand,” said SCEI.

PAL is one of two major TV color standards used in the world. The other, NTSC, is commonly used in the U.S., Japan and many countries in North and South America.

A million consoles will be available during the launch period in the PAL markets, SCEI said.

The company has shipped over 2 million consoles in the U.S. and Japan since launch and is targeting total shipments of 6 million consoles by the end of March.

SCEI also said it plans to offer an update of the system software coinciding with the European launch to “further enhance the entertainment potential of PS3.” It didn’t specify what features would be added.

A total of 36 titles will be made available at the launch. Most will be on traditional disc but some will be available via network download.

Launch titles available on disc: Resistance: Fall of Man; MotorStorm; Genji: Days of the Blade; Formula One Championship Edition; Ridge Racer; Call of Duty 3; Marvel: Ultimate Alliance; Tony Hawks Project 8; Gundam - Target in Sight; Full Auto 2: Battle Lines; Sonic the Hedgehog; Virtua Fighter 5; Virtua Tennis 3; World Snooker Championship 2007; NBA 2K7; NHL 2K7; Blazing Angels Squadrons of WWII; Enchanted Arms; Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Double Agent; The Elder Scrolls lV: Oblivion; Def Jam: Icon; Fight Night Round 3; NBA Street 4 Homecourt 2007; Need for Speed Carbon; The Godfather: The Don’s Edition; Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007; Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom; and F.E.A.R.

Titles available at launch via network download: Gripshift; Tekken: Dark Resurrection; Lemmings; Go! Sudoku; Go! Puzzle; Blast Factor; flOw; and Super Rub’a’Dub.

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