PS Network hits milestone, PS3 upgraded to 1.7

1.3 million users have downloaded 3.7 million content items via Sony's online service; new update adds downloadable PSone game support, rumble for USB PS2 accessories.

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Just over five months ago, the PlayStation 3 was released in North America and Japan. Just over one month ago, it arrived in the UK and Europe. Now, Sony is revealing the first usage statistics for the console's online service, the PlayStation Network.

This week, Dave Karraker, Sony Computer Entertainment America's senior director of public relations, told GameSpot that the PlayStation Network now has more than 1.3 million users worldwide. Of those users, 600,000 are in North America, where Sony has shipped over 2 million consoles. Worldwide, some 3.7 million pieces of content have been downloaded from the PlayStation Network, though Sony did not specify how many of said items were games.

Though off to a strong start, the PlayStation Network--which is free--still remains less popular than its older rival Xbox Live. Microsoft's online service started in 2002 as a pay-only service for the original Xbox, and has since involved into a two-tiered form--free (Silver) and pay (Gold)--for the Xbox 360 since November 2005. It boasts some 6 million users who have downloaded 25 million Xbox Live Arcade games from Xbox Live Marketplace.

In other PS3 news, Sony has upgraded the console's firmware to v1.7. Besides the usual tweaks, the upgrade adds two functionalities that old-school gamers will find most welcome. First, it allows original PlayStation games downloaded from the PlayStation store to be played on the PS3 console. Previously, said games--which currently include Syphon Filter, Tekken 2, and Crash Bandicoot--were only playable on the PlayStation Portable. Previously downloaded original PlayStation games will be retroactively upgraded for use on the PS3.

And although Sony was dismissive of force feedback when it unveiled the Sixaxis controller last year, the 1.7 update adds rumble support for "USB accessories designed for use with PlayStation 2 format software." Unfortunately, the PS3 doesn't have ports for the PS2's Dual Shock controller, but converters between the two port formats are widely available.

Also released today was the v3.4 PSP firmware upgrade. It allows users to save any original PlayStation, PS2, or PS3 game onto the PSP's memory stick.

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