Monday, February 5, 2007

PlayStation 3

PlayStation 3 is Sony Computer Entertainment's seventh-generation video game console, third in the PlayStation series. It is the successor to the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 and competes primarily against Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii.

The console was released on November 11, 2006, in Japan and on November 17, 2006, in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Taiwan. It will be released March 23, 2007 in Europe, Australia and Singapore. It is available in two initial configurations, the 20 GB Basic model and the 60GB Premium model.


Sony officially unveiled the PlayStation 3 to the public on May 16, 2005, during an E3 conference. A functional version of the console was not present at E3 2005 nor the Tokyo Game Show in September 2005, although at both events demonstrations were held on devkits (e.g. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots) and comparable PC hardware, and video footage based on the predicted PlayStation 3 specifications was also shown (e.g. Mobile Suit Gundam).[12] It was not until E3 2006 that games were shown on actual PlayStation 3 systems. At E3 2005, Sony said the PlayStation 3 would have two HDMI and three Ethernet ports. This was later reduced to one of each, presumably because the extra ports were unnecessary and therefore expendable to cut costs. The PS3 is capable of HD video output at resolutions of up to 1080p (1920 by 1080 progressive). The PS3 is the only console with a built-in "high-definition" optical drive — both models come with a Blu-ray drive that runs at 2x speed.[13] In preparation for launch, Sony demonstrated 27 playable PS3 titles during the Tokyo Game Show in September 2006 on final hardware.[14]


In what could be its first big advertising campaign, the PlayStation 3 was featured in the advertising boards of 16 stadiums across Europe, during Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League 2006-2007 Group Stage, on September 12 and 13, 2006. However, on the other matchdays, the advertising was replaced by a PSP, perhaps as a result of the system's launch delay. Television advertisements also began airing in the United States, carrying the slogan "PLAY B3YOND - l l l 7." The 3 that replaces the E in "BEYOND" (an example of leet) hearkens back to the launch slogan of the PlayStation: "u r not e".

Originally, three ads have aired for the console- none showcasing actual games. One simply featured a baby doll staring at the PS3 and making gestures and sounds, some of which sound like eerie laughter, as tears stream from its eyes. Another had the PS3, in the same white-walled setting, sitting across from a Rubik's cube, which suddenly levitated, solved itself, and exploded into colors on the four walls. The third ad used the same white backdrop and, unlike the other two ads, portrayed the motion-sensing controller by showing eggs rolling across the floor. There were also two ads between one and two minutes long, which used the same backdrop as the others, focusing on the capabilities of the Cell microprocessor and the Blu-ray Disc.

System configuration

The basic configuration of the console has a 20 GB internal hard drive. The "premium" version of the PlayStation 3 comes with an internal 60 GB 2.5" Serial ATA hard drive, IEEE 802.11b/g Wi-Fi connectivity, multiple flash memory card readers (SD/MultiMedia Card, CompactFlash, Memory Stick) and features a chrome-colored trim.[16] Both consoles now feature a silver-colored text logo on the top face of the system. The hard drive is upgradeable, using the standard Serial ATA interface. No official Wi-Fi or flash memory card adapters have yet been released by Sony, although plans for such add-ons are in place.[17] Nevertheless, as both models feature four USB 2.0 ports, wireless networking and flash memory card support can already be obtained through the use of widely available external USB adapters. No high-definition video cables are included; instead, a composite video/stereo audio cable ships with the system. While Sony will soon release an official PS3 component cable, their official PS2 component cables are compatible with the PS3, as both consoles use the same AV Multi Out jack.

Release data and pricing

The PlayStation 3 was released in Japan on November 11, 2006, at 07:00. There were reports that many of the initial consoles were obtained by businessmen who paid mainly Chinese nationals to buy the console without any software[34] to resell on eBay. According to Media Create, 81,639 PS3 systems were sold within 24 hours of its introduction in Japan.[35] Sony has opted to go with an open pricing scheme for the 60 GB model, allowing retailers to set a price point themselves.[36]

The PlayStation 3 was released in North America on November 17, 2006. Reports of violence surrounding the release of the PS3 include a customer shot,[37] campers robbed at gunpoint,[38] customers shot in a drive-by shooting with BB guns,[39] and 60 campers fighting over 10 systems.[40] In California, two GameStop employees fabricated a robbery to cover up their own theft of several PlayStation 3 and four Xbox 360 consoles.

On January 25, 2007, Sony announced that the launch date for the Australian and European release of the PS3 will be March 23, 2007.[2] However, like the European launch, the Australian launch will only feature the 60GB model for AU$999 (including GST).

The official Singaporean release will be in March 2007,[31] with the price for the 60 GB version set at S$799, without any games. It is expected that Sony Singapore will sell it bundled with some games, so a price of approximately S$1000 is expected.

The initial production cost is estimated to be US$805.85 for the 20 GB model and US$840.35 for the 60 GB model.[41]

On January 7, 2007, Sony confirmed they met their goal of shipping over 1 million units to North America.[6] Just over a week later, on January 16, Sony confirmed they had shipped 1 million units in Japan, bringing the worldwide total to 2 million shipped.[7]


Reaction to the PlayStation 3 has largely been mixed. CNET awarded it a high score of 8.8, praising its robust graphical capabilities and stylish exterior design while criticizing its limited selection of available games.[42] It was given the number eight spot on PC World's list of "The Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006," where it was criticized for being "Late, Expensive, and Incompatible."[43] Gabe Newell, co-founder and managing director of Valve, called the PS3 "…a disaster on so many levels," and suggested "[Sony] should cancel it and do a 'do over'.”[44]


Main articles: List of PlayStation 3 games, Chronology of PlayStation 3 games, and List of PlayStation Network games

The PlayStation 3 launched in North America and Japan with 15 titles by November 17, 2006. Resistance: Fall of Man had sold the most units after 5 days, and was heavily praised by many gaming websites, including GameSpot and IGN, who awarded it with Playstation 3 Game of the Year award. Several planned launch titles were delayed, such as F.E.A.R. and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion. The European release of the Playstation 3 will launch with a further 22 titles, including Virtua Fighter 5, Splinter Cell: Double Agent and Enchanted Arms.

Major first party titles include the upcoming MotorStorm, an off-road racing game, Heavenly Sword, an action adventure game that won several awards at E3 2006, Killzone (working title), the sequel to the popular first person shooter for the Playstation 2, Eight Days, a third person shooter and driving game, Lair, a fantasy adventure game that sees you take the role of a dragon rider, and Warhawk, a third person flying shooter making use of the PlayStation 3's SIXAXIS controller capabilities.

There is also a huge array of strong third party titles the are schedueled from release exclusively on the Playstation 3, such as Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, reportedly the final chapter of Hideo Kojima's tactical espionage epic, Devil May Cry 4, the third sequel in the fast-paced gun-slinging/sword-fighting Capcom series, Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a dual installment of the hugely popular Square Enix role-playing franchise, Tekken 6, the continuation of the legendary beat-em-up, and Mercenaries 2: World in Flames, the sequel to the chaotic third person action romp.

Game development

The PlayStation 3 is based on open and publicly available application programming interfaces. Sony has selected several technologies and arranged several sublicensing agreements to create an advanced software development kit for developers. In addition, in 2005 Sony purchased SN Systems, a former provider of Microsoft Windows-based development tools for a variety of console platforms; including PlayStation 2, GameCube, PSP and Nintendo DS to create additional GNU development tools.[citation needed]

Open standards for OpenGL, matrix algorithms, and scene data are specified by the Khronos Group, and are intended to work with nVidia's Cg programming language. Scene data are stored with COLLADA v1.4, an open, XML-based file format.[45] Rendering uses PSGL, a modified version of OpenGL ES 1.0 (OpenGL ES 2.0 compliant except for the use of Cg instead of GLSL), with extensions specifically aimed at the PS3.[46] Other specifications include OpenMAX, a collection of fast, cross-platform tools for general "media acceleration," such as matrix calculations, and OpenVG, for hardware-accelerated 2D vector graphics. These specifications have GPL, free for any use, and/or commercial implementations by third parties.

Sublicensed technology includes complete game engines, physics libraries, and special libraries. Engines include Epic's Unreal engine 3.0. Physics libraries include AGEIA's PhysX SDK, NovodeX,[47] and Havok's physics and animation engines.[48] Other tools include Nvidia's Cg 1.5 (a C-like shading language, which HLSL was based upon), SpeedTree RT by Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (high-quality virtual foliage in real time), and Kynogon's Kynapse 4.0 "large scale A.I.".[49]

Sony has considered using IPv6, the next generation of the Internet Protocol.[50]

Todd Howard of Bethesda Softworks notes that the Blu-ray transfer speeds are slower than DVD, and thus, Bethesda is duplicating data to reduce seek time.[51] Other titles, such as Genji: Days of the Blade and Ridge Racer 7, allow users to install 4-5 GB of game data to the hard drive, which dramatically improves load times. In Genji, for example, the cached data apparently reduces load times from 15 seconds to 4 seconds.[52]

Backward compatibility

Sony stated every PlayStation and PlayStation 2 game that observes its respective system's TRC (Technical Requirements Checklist) will be playable on PS3 at launch. SCE president Ken Kutaragi asked developers to adhere to the TRC to facilitate compatibility with future PlayStations, stating that the company was having some difficulty getting backward compatibility with games that had not followed the TRCs. It has been confirmed (image) that initial PS3 units include the CPU/rasterizer combination chip used in the slim PS2 (EE+GS) to achieve backward compatibility.[53]

The PlayStation 3 does not include interfaces for legacy PlayStation peripherals, though tested a legacy controller using a PS2-to-USB adapter, finding that it is compatible, though most other devices (such as the Guitar Hero controller) may not be compatible.[54] USB devices for PlayStation 2 may be compatible with PlayStation 3. The PS3 supports both the USB EyeToy camera/webcam and SOCOM Headset for video and voice chat. A memory card adapter is available so users can save their PS/PS2 data to a virtual memory card on the hard drive.[55] The PlayStation 3 can also use Memory Sticks to store save data for PlayStation and PlayStation 2 software.[56]

At least 3% of the games from the previous generations of the PlayStation had problems at launch such as dropped audio, freezes or controller malfunction[57]. Popular games reported to have this glitch include Tekken 5 and Gran Turismo. Many games have also been reported to have problems with garbled or unreadable text onscreen and generally blurry image quality. As of 2006-11-16, a firmware upgrade has been posted online by Sony that is intended to address some of these issues.[58] The January 24, 2007 firmware release, which updates the system to version 1.50, has fully taken care of this problem.[59]

In addition, the backward compatibility function is region-locked.[60]

System software


Similar to the PlayStation Portable (PSP), Sony has added the ability for firmware updates to be downloaded and used on the PlayStation 3. The updates can be installed via System Update, HDD, or a Game that requires a firmware update.

The latest version of firmware for the US and Japanese PlayStation 3 is version 1.51, released February 2, 2007. This update fixes graphical issues for PS1/PS2 games, adds additional security options, adds Edy payment options for Japan,[61] and includes other minor XMB updates.[62] As of this update, neither backwards compatible games nor DVD movies are yet upscaled.

Graphical user interface

Main article: Cross Media Bar

PS3's XMB (Cross Media Bar) Interface
PS3's XMB (Cross Media Bar) Interface

The PlayStation 3 version of the Cross Media Bar (Xross Media Bar, or XMB) includes 8 categories of options. These include: Users, Settings, Photo, Music, Video, Game, Network and Friends. The PS3 includes the ability to store different user profiles, explore photos, play music and movies from the hard drive, compatibility for a USB Keyboard and Mouse, a full Internet browser and a Friends menu. Also, the PlayStation 3 adds the ability to multitask in ways such as listening to music while surfing the web or looking at pictures.[63] The PlayStation 3 XMB supports a variety of file formats (audio, image, video). Because PlayStation 3 is capable of running Linux, other formats can be played through the operating system, assuming the correct codec is present. In a separate demo Sony presented the "Marketplace" where users can buy and download music. The PS3 reserves 64 MB of RAM at all times for XMB functions.

The XMB's default background color changes depending on the current month of the year, and it changes brightness depending on the time of day.[citation needed]Q-Games Ltd, a small development company based in Kyoto, Japan, developed the graphics technology behind the XMB, its stylized background, and the built-in music visualizers. The PlayStation 3 uses a version of the NetFront browser by Access Co. as its internal web browser. It is the same browser used in the PSP (Sony-branded NetFront 2.81) with the same interface, menus and virtual keyboard. Sony has also worked with Stanford University to bring the Folding@home project to the PS3.[64] When downloaded, the program will run when the system is idle.


Main article: PlayStation 3 linux

Gentoo Linux installed on a PS3.
Gentoo Linux installed on a PS3.

Sony has made an option in the XMB menu to install other operating systems.[65] Among other Linux distributions, Fedora Core 5, Gentoo, Debian, and Yellow Dog have been run on the PS3[66][67][68].

Sony currently implements a hypervisor restricting RSX access[69], though the graphics are fast enough for emulation of some old systems. Linux has access to the 7 SPEs, and IBM provides an introduction to programming parallel applications on the PlayStation 3 [3].
“ Because we have plans for having Linux on board [the PS3], we also recognize Linux programming activities… Other than game studios tied to official developer licenses, we'd like to see various individuals participate in content creation for the PS3. ”

—on the presence of the Linux in the PS3.[70]
Wikibooks Linux Guide has a page concerning the
PlayStation 3

PlayStation Network

Main article: PlayStation Network

In response to Microsoft's Xbox Live network, Sony announced a unified online service for the PlayStation 3 console at the 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing meeting in Tokyo. Sony has confirmed that the service will be always connected,[71] free and include multiplayer support. However, developers are permitted to charge a subscription fee, as is common with MMO games.

The Xfire client can be integrated into games to provide various match-making facilities, at a cost to the publisher.[72]

At the Tokyo Game Show on September 21, 2006, it was revealed that users will be able to download some of the thousands of PlayStation 1 and PlayStation 2 titles from the PlayStation Network for about $5 to $15, starting with those with the smallest game data. The reason to allow this kind of functionality is that Sony wants to allow the users to choose the games of their preference. Ken Kutaragi also announced functionality with other consoles, similar to Nintendo's Virtual Console, including confirmed Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx 16 functionality. However, Sega has replied that Sony has been too hasty with calling it a fact. Sega is currently reviewing the possibilities, but has not yet made a decision on it.[73]

The registration interface can only be accessed through the PS3 system interface.[74] The on-screen input method for the system is a T9 "dial pad" system (similar to writing a text message on a mobile phone) that predicts words as they are typed. This is the only method of input available out of the box (that is, without a compatible USB keyboard).[75] The predictive text does not predict any capitalized words, causing users that want to make use of this feature to input all words in lowercase and then go back and capitalize the first letters (if needed). An alternative is to add words to the system’s built-in predictive text dictionary; also, the unit automatically keeps track of any inputted terms.[75]

PlayStation Portable connectivity

The PlayStation Portable can connect with the PlayStation 3 in many ways, including in-game connectivity. For example, Formula One 06, a racing game, was shown at E3 2006 using a PSP as a real-time rear-view mirror.[76] In addition, it is possible to download PlayStation 1 games to the PlayStation 3 from the PlayStation Store. These games are not playable on the PS3; however, they can be sent to a PSP, where they can then be played using the PSP's PlayStation Emulator.[77] Sony has been criticized for making this feature exclusive to the PSP, given the limited supply available compared to the number of PSP units on the market.[citation needed]

Sony has also demonstrated the PSP playing back video content, including 1080p content from the PlayStation 3 hard disk across an ad-hoc wireless network. This feature is referred to as Remote Play.[78]

PlayStation 3 cluster

Given the computing capabilities of the machine, there is some interest in using the PS3 for high-performance computing (the NCSA has already built a cluster based on the PlayStation 2).[79] Terra Soft Solutions has a version of Yellow Dog Linux for the PlayStation 3[80] and even sells PS3s with Linux pre-installed.[81] In addition, RapidMind is pushing their stream programming package for the PS3.[82]

Silver PlayStation 3s at E3 2006
Silver PlayStation 3s at E3 2006

Unless otherwise noted, the following specifications are based on a press release by Sony at the 2005 E3 Conference,[83] and slides from a Sony presentation at the 2006 Game Developer's Conference.[84]

Central processing unit

Main article: Cell microprocessor

The PS3's 3.2-GHz Cell processor, developed jointly by Sony, Toshiba and IBM ("STI"), is an implementation to dynamically assign physical processor cores to do different types of work independently. It has a PowerPC-based "Power Processing Element" (PPE) and six accessible 3.2-GHz Synergistic Processing Elements (SPEs). A seventh runs in a special mode and is dedicated to aspects of the OS and security, and an eighth is disabled to improve production yields. The PPE, SPEs and other elements ("units") are connected via an Element Interconnect Bus which serves to connect all of the units in a ring-style bus. The PPE has a 512-KB level 2 cache and one VMX vector unit. Each SPE is a RISC processor with 128-bit SIMD GPRs and superscalar functions. Each SPE contains 256 KB of non-cached memory (local storage, "LS") that is shared by program code and work data. SPEs may access more data in the main memory using DMA. The floating point performance of the whole system (CPU + GPU) is reported to be 2 TFLOPS[83]. PlayStation 3's Cell CPU achieves 204 GFLOPS single precision float and 15 GFLOPS double precision. The PS3 has 256 MB of Rambus XDR DRAM, clocked at CPU die speed.

The Cell microprocessor allows programmers to assign SPEs different work by running individual programs on them. Programmers may also arrange data flow in different ways, for example using parallel, pipelined or streamed processing data flow models. As an example for parallel processing performance gains, one core could work on decoding and multiplexing audio, another core may perform computations on realistic projectiles ballistics, while another might govern the activities of the main character. The programmer still has three more cores not yet assigned but the only remaining tasks are to collect the work performed and display the results on the screen. Since the program code on each SPE core is executed from its local store memory, much more Element Interconnect Bus bandwidth is available to transfers of work data. An obvious downside to this is that there is a 256-KB size restriction on SPE programs, which may present a challenge for certain programming tasks.

Current PS3 units are shipped with 90nm Cell processor, but soon these PS3 units are going to have 60nm Cell processor built into it. This will mean a price cut for Sony on every PlayStation 3 sold[citation needed]. This is because the 65nm Cell processor is cheaper than the 90nm processor. Secondly an overall heat reduction for the PlayStation 3[citation needed].

Graphics processing unit

Main article: RSX 'Reality Synthesizer'

The Graphics Processing Unit is based on the NVIDIA G70 (previously known as NV47) architecture, which focuses on maximizing per-pixel computation in favor of raw pixel output. The GPU will make use of 256-MB GDDR3 VRAM clocked at 700 MHz and the XDR main memory via the CPU.


The article Blu-ray Disc contains related information

The PS3 supports numerous SDTV and HDTV resolutions (from 480i up to 1080p) and connectivity options (such as HDMI 1.3[85] and component video)[86]. In terms of audio, the PS3 supports a number of formats, including 7.1 digital audio, Dolby TrueHD, and others; audio output is possible over stereo RCA cables (analog), optical digital cables, or HDMI. For the optical drive, a wide variety of DVD and CD formats are supported, as well as Blu-ray Discs. A 20 GB / 60 GB 2.5" SATA 150 hard disk is pre-installed. In the 60 GB configuration, flash memory can also be used — either Memory Stick, CompactFlash, or SD/MMC. For communication, the PS3 has one Gigabit Ethernet port, four USB 2.0 ports, and supports Bluetooth 2.0 EDR.

Form factor and power consumption

The console has many ventilation holes, a single large fan, and uses heat pipes; Sony states the system is as quiet as a PlayStation 2 SCPH-70000 series.[citation needed] Physically, the PlayStation 3 is approximately 5 kg (11 lb), 9.8 cm × 32.5 cm × 27.4 cm (3.9 in. × 12.8 in. × 10.8 in.). The power supply is built into the console and a standard 3-pin IEC connector is present at the base of the console. All current PS3 power supplies are Universal 100V-240V/50-60 Hz and will work worldwide, external power markings only relate to the intended market area. The power consumption ranges from 150-200 watts during normal use [4].


Main article: PlayStation 3 accessories

The PlayStation 3 Wireless Controller (SIXAXIS)
The PlayStation 3 Wireless Controller (SIXAXIS)

The PlayStation 3 SIXAXIS[87] is a controller that is nearly identical to that of the predecessor's DualShock 2. The SIXAXIS features finer analog sensitivity;[88] more trigger-like R2 and L2 buttons; a PS (“home”) button; and a USB mini-B port for charging the internal battery and for wired play. The PlayStation 3 supports up to 7 simultaneous controllers over Bluetooth.[16] The SIXAXIS is named for its ability to detect motion in the full six degrees. However, unlike the previous DualShock, the new controller has no vibration feature. The controller retails for US$50.

The PlayStation 3 Memory Card Adaptor is a device that allows data to be transferred to and from PlayStation and PlayStation 2 memory cards to the PlayStation 3's hard disk. The device has a cable that connects to the PS3's USB port on one end, and features a legacy PS2 memory card port on the other end. The adaptor is available at a price of US$14.99 in the United States and JP¥1500 (including tax) in Japan.

Using Bluetooth, the PlayStation 3 BD Remote allows users to easily control videos and music on Blu-ray Disc and DVD. In Japan, the device was available starting December 7, 2006, and costs JP¥3,800. The device is also currently available in North America for US$24.99.[5] However, the PS3 will accept signals only via its Bluetooth Remote, as the console does not have an infrared receiver. This prevents the use of universal remotes with the system. The Blu-ray Disc movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby was included with the initial 400,000 release copies of the PS3 in North America.[89]

Official PlayStation 3 HDMI cables retail for US$60. No HDMI cable is included with the PlayStation 3 system. An official component AV cable will be available soon for US$24.99.

Nurturing the PlayStation dream

The engineer who conceived the PlayStation, Ken Kutaragi, talked to Richard Taylor about the extraordinary development of the PlayStation brand.

Sony's Ken Kutaragi shows off the new PlayStation 3
Kutaragi is president of Sony's computer entertainment division
It is difficult for today's so-called PlayStation generation to imagine life without the console and all its offspring.

Though there were others before it, the PlayStation was pivotal to the adoption of gaming as part of mainstream culture, a watershed moment in the brief history of gaming.

Strange to think, then, that the project was very nearly stillborn. The initial collaboration with Nintendo fell apart, and Sony was left pondering whether or not to resurrect it.

Ken Kutaragi was the engineer at Sony behind the venture. He told Click Online he faced enormous internal resistance to the original PlayStation project: 99% of senior execs were against the idea.

But, convinced that shelving the project would damage both Sony and technology industry, he was determined to carry on the project at any cost, even in secret.

I want to change the world with technology and I want to change our lives
Ken Kutaragi
"We tried so hard to convince Sony executives that the PlayStation project was worth pursuing, but found that it was extremely difficult without having a physical mock-up of the console.

"Thankfully our team made a prototype very quickly, and everyone involved was convinced that the project would become a huge success in future.

"We brought the prototypes with us to a presentation of senior executives, and outlined our dream. The then CEO, Mr Oga, gave us the green light so we were thoroughly delighted."

Exceeding expectations

Over the next few years the PlayStation took the world by storm, and by the time the PlayStation 2 (PS2) was released six years later, it was nothing short of a phenomenon.

Image of Sony's family of PlayStations
PlayStation has helped establish gaming in mainstream culture
With an install base of more than 200 million consoles worldwide, Ken says it exceeded everyone's expectations.

And today the dream of continuing that success is still very much alive.

"I am an engineer and I like technology. I want to change the world with technology and I want to change our lives. The best way to realise it is, for us, PlayStation.

"In the past, game machines used to use obsolete technologies. But we as engineers are always keen to introduce new technology to them. And with creators, we are very interested in creating totally new entertainment."

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is slated for release next spring and Mr Kutaragi says it promises to usher in a whole new era of entertainment, though observers point to hype like this about the PS2, which never really materialised.

What is clear is that the cell processor which drives the PS3 is extremely powerful. It has been called a supercomputer on a chip. But much depends on how it can be exploited by developers.

Changing market

The PS3 also faces stiff competition from the Xbox 360, and the jury is out on which will deliver the superior technology and ultimately the better games.

Image of Sony's PlayStation 3
Sony's PS3 is touted as the "supercomputer" of gaming
Mr Kutaragi would not be drawn directly into commenting on the threat from Redmond, but he does believe that the power of the PlayStation is making PC makers think again.

"While the computer itself is evolving significantly, it's also the case that new types of computers, like the PlayStation, are going into millions of homes all around the world.

"Companies working on PCs worry that their markets may be reduced to being simply the office environment. That's why they're making various attempts to approaching the next big market - real-time computing and the home."

So, does the creator of the PlayStation feel responsible for nurturing a whole generation of video game lovers?

"I am really pleased to be occasionally called the father of the PlayStation.

"But my dream, and the dream of all my team, hasn't finished. In fact we haven't achieved even half of what we're going to do.

"We want to lead with the PlayStation 3, and beyond that to the PlayStation 4 within the next decade."

"I cannot imagine a PlayStation 4"

Nomura Securities' Yuta Sakurai believes the PS3 will be Sony's last console; sees Hirai appointment as Segalike shift to software.

In the months leading up to the launch of the PlayStation 3 and Wii, barely a week went by without one analyst or another issuing proclamations of doom or promises of riches for both Sony and Nintendo. Now that both consoles are on the market, many investment firms' in-house game-industry experts are giving their assessments of the two companies' fortunes.

The prognostication reached a fever pitch today, when Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) shuffled its executive lineup. Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) president Kaz Hirai took over the position of SCE president Ken Kutaragi, who was promoted to SCE chairman and retained the title of SCE group CEO. Hirai will also be SCE's chief operating officer, and will relocate to Sony's Tokyo headquarters from SCEA's HQ in Foster City, California.

While Sony spun the changes as a "strengthening" of its executive team, many analysts saw it as a vote of no confidence for Kutaragi's stewardship of the PlayStation 3. The high-tech console's Blu-ray laser drive has been plagued by component manufacturing woes, which drastically limited supply of the console for its Japanese and North American launches, and delayed its European debut until 2007.

Some analysts went one step further, taking Hirai's succession as a harbinger of doom. No one was more pessimistic than Nomura Securities' Yuta Sakurai, who made the astounding prediction that the PlayStation 3 would be the last console Sony, the current console market-share leader, would ever make.

"The appointment of Hirai could be the start of a shift from hardware to software," said Sakurai. "I cannot now imagine a PlayStation 4." According to the Financial Times, Sakurai's reasoning is that "Hirai's new global portfolio puts a predominantly software-focused manager in charge of the company." His logic is reportedly that, with the emphasis moving to software, Sony would go the way of Sega, transforming from a console maker to a mere game publisher.

Critics were quick to point out that, despite its problems, Sony is primarily an electronics manufacturer, and has invested billions in the research and development of the PS3's technology. Despite the hyperbolic tone of Sakurai's comments, SCEA publicity chief Dave Karraker issued a polite response. "Following the launch of the PlayStation 3 just a few weeks ago, and witnessing the huge consumer demand for the product, I think it would be rather short-sighted for anyone to predict there might not be a next generation of PlayStation product."