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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 September 2006, 07:23 GMT 08:23 UK
Tokyo Games Show: Your Questions
The PlayStation 3
The PlayStation 3 goes on sale in the US and Japan in November
BBC News reporter Jonathan Fildes is in Japan covering the Tokyo Game Show, one of the biggest videogame conferences in the world.

We put to him the best questions you sent in to us about the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii, which will be battling it out for dominance in your living room this Christmas.

Q: A question I would like to ask Sony is...."Why did they only push back the release date for Europe, but still go ahead with the original release date for the USA and Asia? Why not put the release date back for the whole world?"
Rob Garcia, Malaga, Spain

A: Phil Harrison, head of worldwide studios at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe says that Sony decided to delay in Europe as it is the most complex market for them to distribute consoles.

The European region is made of 104 countries that have different safety standards and different languages. The large number of countries makes it logistically difficult to distribute the consoles, he said.

In contrast, Mr Harrison said, North America consists of three countries with 2 main languages. In addition 80% of all sales come from 20 chains of shops making it easier to distribute the consoles.

Geographically it is also closer to China where the consoles are assembled. Japan, the other region that will see PS3s on shelves in November, is also a more homogenous market, he said.

Like America it is geographically closer to the factory.

"Sony felt it was better to delay in one market rather than risk failure in three markets and ending up disappointing everybody," Mr Harrison told the BBC News website.

Mr Harrison said that he also personally regrets the decision, as he will no longer be able to have a PS3 in time for Christmas as Sony is sending all production models out to their customers.

Xbox 360 stand
The Xbox 360 stand proved popular with gamers
Q: Will the new PS3 be backwards compatible with PS2 games?
Michelle, Doncaster, England

A: Yes. The PS3 has software that allows it to play 99% of PlayStation 1 and 2 (PS2) discs. In addition, Ken Kutaragi, the head of PlayStation at Sony, has said that PS3 owners will be able to download older PlayStation titles from the internet using Sony's new online service.

"Game saves" on PS2 memory cards can be uploaded to the PS3 using an adaptor so that you can continue to play an older game from the same stage as you left it on your PS2.

Q: With the delayed European launch of the PS3, will this cause a reduction in the price for European consumers to match the wait?
David, London

A: Phil Harrison said there would be no change to the US or the European prices for the PS3.

The recent price drop in Japan was to make sure that the price was "in line" with the price people would pay in the rest of the world, he said.

When prices were set, he said, Sony went for "magic figures": under $500 and under 500 euros, for the 20Gb console.

The Japanese price was derived from these figures. However, he said, that had made a price that was too expensive for Japanese gamers and they had been forced to drop the price.

Q: Will the Wii and PS3 be region-free? Or will the games publisher be able to lock the game down to a specific region?
Alan, Fareham

A: The PS3 will have region free games, allowing European gamers for example to play titles from Japan or the US.

Nintendo has said that the Wii will have a region lock for in-house and third-party titles.

Sony have also said that although their games will be region free, Blu-ray films will fall into three regions, with Japan and America falling into the same regional code.

Existing DVD region codes will remain the same.

Q: Is there any chance of the rumble function being reincluded in the controller?
John, Bangor, Northern Ireland

A: Sony has said the rumble function, which makes PS2 controllers vibrate in response to the onscreen action, will not be included in future PS3 controllers.

Phil Harrison said that the decision to not include the feature was two-fold.

First, he said, it was too expensive to keep the dual shock controller, as they were known, and include the motion sensors and tilt function in the new controller. The new functionality allows gamers to control what is happening on screen by moving the controller in the air.

He also said that more importantly the new controller gave games designers more freedom to create new and interesting games.

"Giving the user more control over the game is a much better feature than a reaction from the console that they cannot control," he said.

PlayStation 3 on display
Sony were hoping to impress people with the PlayStation 3
Q: How will the PS3 be upgradeable (if at all)?
John, Bangor, Northern Ireland

A: The PS3 will be upgradeable in two ways. First the firmware, which is similar to a computers operating system, will be able to be updated over the internet.

Software too can be downloaded from the net, allowing users to keep up to date with new features and add-ons for games.

The hardware, whilst not directly upgradeable, supports a large number of industry-standard interfaces such as USB, Bluetooth and flash memory cards.

Therefore a large number of peripherals, that Sony expect will be made by third party companies, can be easily plugged into the PS3. So for example the hard disc could be easily upgraded by buying an external USB drive.

Q: With the imminent release of the Wii, and the PS3 next March, competition finally seems to be hotting up. Is there a buzz at TGS this year and any indication of who may come out on top in Japan?
Steven Bagley, Walsall, West Midlands

A: Unfortunately Nintendo did not attend the Tokyo Games Show, preferring to hold its own events instead. However, there was still a lot of talk about the Wii and there is a general enthusiasm here about its release.

Nintendo have a strong following in Japan and their unorthodox controller has got many games developers and gamers excited.

The Xbox 360, which has been on the market for nearly a year, is making inroads into the Japanese market. Microsoft has started to develop and release titles specifically for Japanese gamers, something they did not do with the original Xbox.

On the Microsoft stand there were two-hour queues to play Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey, the latest role playing games. These games and the new price of the Xbox 360 mean that people are now taking Microsoft more seriously in Japan.

However, TGS has been Sony's show in many ways. They had the largest presence here and had throngs of people eager to try out the PS3 and a list of new titles.

The price reduction in Japan means that the console is now more affordable, but it is still more expensive than both the Wii and Xbox 360.

The delays have also meant that some gamers have already bought an Xbox 360 instead.

At the moment it is impossible to forecast who will win the console battle with two consoles still due for release but it will be a story that the technology team will be following closely over the next year.

Q: How will the online component of the PS3 work?
David Blair, Stockport England

A: The PS3 is pretty much plug and play. If you have a broadband connection you can plug the PS3 into your modem or router and you are online. If you have wireless, the PS3 will connect.

Using the PlayStation Network Platform, as it is known, you can play games with people from around the world, have conversations using the inbuilt video and instant messaging systems or download games and software for your PS3.

The internet connection also allows you to browse the web on the television that your PS3 is plugged in to.

Q: What can the 360 offer someone, like myself, who doesn't really like FPS, driving, sports or general online gaming which seem to make up most of the 360 titles out there?
Mark, Newport, Wales

A: Xbox are releasing a huge number of new games. Peter Moore, the head of Xbox, said that there would be 110 Xbox 360 titles by the end of the year.

Within this line up are different styles of game including role-playing games and quirky social games like Viva Piņata.

In the game, players take control of a garden that grows in real time. With proper maintenance the garden attracts new creatures, or Piņatas.

The game has a strong social element with players able to trade objects and animals from their garden, many of which can be customised, over the internet.

Microsoft will be making a series of announcements about their new games at their event X06 in Barcelona next week.

"Watch this space," said Mr Moore.

Q: How long are Xbox games going to be manufactured, and when will more Xbox 360 games be released. It seems at the moment that the ground is very thin.
Matt Owen, Kent, UK

A: Although many of the teams that comprise Microsoft Game Studios started making games for the Xbox 360 when it was released, some continue to publish Xbox titles.

Peter Moore said that he expects this to continue throughout 2007. After that, third party companies will probably make any Xbox titles, he said.

"I think as long as people keep playing them, publishers will keep making them," Mr Moore said.

Q: When will Xbox 360 games be keyboard and mouse compatible (or will they ever)?

A: No. Peter Moore said that there would never be a mouse and keyboard attachment for the Xbox 360. "Its not meant to be a productivity device, it's [the Xbox 360] about fun," he said.

Q: I'd like to know if the quality of graphics and the gameplay of the PS3 are a lot better than the Xbox 360 or if it pretty much feels the same when playing.
Jeremy, Ottawa, Canada

A: At the moment many PS3 games are still in development and therefore it is difficult to compare the two.

The PS3 games I have played - including Resistance: Fall of Man, Gran Turismo HD and Lair - do not play any better than many Xbox 360 titles on show.

Both are slick and have amazing visuals and gameplay. At the moment, the PS3 games are not able to take full advantage of the Cell processor so future games may look and play differently.

I would expect that the games for both the Xbox 360 and PS3 will continue to improve and surprise gamers as the consoles mature, in the same way that games improved for the original Xbox and PS2 throughout their lives.




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