When Sony's PlayStation and PlayStation 2 consoles launched worldwide, there was up to nine months between the Japanese and European releases. So European gamers rejoiced when, at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, it was announced that the PlayStation 3 launch would take place worldwide over a matter of weeks in November.
However, this morning Sony has issued a statement saying that the PlayStation 3 release date has been pushed back to March 2007 in Europe, Russia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australasia. Sony cited 'the delay in the mass-production schedule of the blue laser diode within the Sony Group' as the reason for the postponement.
[UPDATE 2] After a large amount of confusion, Sony has now confirmed that it has drastically scaled back the scope of the PS3 launch in Japan in the US. Only 100,000 PS3s will be in Japanese stores when the platform goes on sale there on November 11. North America will only get 400,000 units for its PS3 launch on November 17.
The combined figure of 500,000 is one quarter of the 2 million units Sony predicted would be available at launch worldwide as late as this morning. The company has since lowered its worldwide 2006 shipment estimates from 4 million to 2 million-2.4 million. Officially, Sony's global shipment forecast of 6 million units for its 2007 fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2007, remains unaffected.
The European delay means that the PlayStation 3 launch will take place well over six years since that of its predecessor, which went on sale on November 24, 2000. Sony is making no additional comment on the PlayStation 3 delay at this point in time.