It's official, PlayStation 3 to hit Aussie shores March 23

Sony will launch its 60GB PlayStation 3 console five months after the US and Japan

Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) has put eager PlayStation fans' fears to rest with confirmation that the PlayStation 3 will be launched across Europe and Australia on March 23.

Although Sony sells two different models (a high-end 60GB model and a 20GB model) of the game console in North America and Japan, only the 60GB model will be available for the Australian and European launch.

The high-end model, which comes with a 60GB hard drive, Blu-ray drive, WiFi support and memory card inputs, will retail for $999. The cheaper $829 version will be released later in the year if demand dictates.

SCE Australia public relations manager, Adrian Christie, denied suggestions that the decision to only release the high-end PS3 was due to unit shortages, but was in fact due to consumer demand as witnessed in other regions already selling the console.

"Feedback from our retailers and consumer demand has led us to concentrate on the one skew," he said. "It's all about what people want and they're all going for the higher end."

The PS3 was initially slated for a worldwide November launch last year but key component shortages for production of the included Blu-ray drive forced Sony to delay Australian and European launches. Only the US and Japan launched PS3 consoles in November and even then, the initial forecast of 2 million available units was drastically reduced to 500,000.

Christie would not reveal the number of available units for the Australian launch or quantity of pre-orders, but said "consumers will not be disappointed."

"We will be looking at pre-order numbers, assessing demand and then try to ensure that every consumer that wants to purchase has the opportunity to do so," he said.

Although Sony missed its 2006 end of year sales forecast of 2 million units sold (having just reached that figure in combined sales across Japan and North America last week), the company has stuck by its guns and expects to hit its 6 million sales target by the end of March 2007.

Despite the murky details of available launch consoles, one thing Australian consumers can look forward to is the bevy of titles Sony will release to coincide with the March 23 release. PlayStation 3's range of Australian launch games is expected to include Resistance: Fall of Man, Formula One, MotorStorm, Full Auto 2, Virtua Fighter 5, Virtua Tennis 3, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Fight Night Round 3, Need for Speed Carbon, NBA 2K7, Call of Duty 3 and Ridge Racer 7.

The PlayStation Network online store will also feature downloads from launch day, including Gran Turismo HD Concept, Tekken: Dark Resurrection, Blast Factor, flOw, Go! Sudoku and Go! Puzzle.

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