Spot On: The 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing

Extended coverage of Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi's presentation on the PS3 delay, Blu-ray, PSP EyeToy and GPS, and PS2 pricing and penetration.

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TOKYO--Today, the 2006 PlayStation Business Briefing kicked off in Tokyo. With little fanfare, Sony Computer president Ken Kutaragi took the stage to lay out his vision for the future of the PlayStation 2, PSP, and PlayStation 3.

First, Kutaragi talked about the PlayStation 2, telling those present that the console has sold more than 100 million units worldwide. He said the console had an average of 60 percent international market share through its product cycle to date, and that Sony had no plans to change its price point, currently $149 in the US. He also displayed a series of charts that showed the console's household penetration as of December 2006. In Japan, 41 percent of households owned a PS2, compared to 32 percent in the US, and 33 percent in the UK.

However, the subject quickly turned to the PSP and its new price. Kutaragi started that part of his presentation by revealing that the handheld has shipped 15 million cumulative units worldwide since its Japanese debut in December 2004. He underlined the fact that while the handheld is selling less than the Nintendo DS in Japan, it has actually penetrated through the game market faster than the PSone or PS2 in their first 14 months on sale.

To explain differences between the PSP and the DS, Kutaragi displayed a chart that compared the age and gender of the two handhelds' users. The charts showed that the PSP owners are predominantly males between their mid-teens and mid-20s. By contrast, the DS has its strongest following between members of both sexes aged 10 and 15, and it is especially popular among females in their early teens and women aged 40 to 50.

Kutaragi commented that when SCE targeted the mainstream audience in the past, it would be with challenging games such as Parappa the Rapper and Dokodemo Issho. He then proclaimed that from now on, it is his intent to explore and develop parts of the market that haven't been cultivated yet--the same strategy Nintendo has repeatedly said it is taking.

Closing his comments on the user data chart, Kutaragi went on to unveil new peripherals and updates for the PSP. He unveiled two peripherals during the presentation: An add-on USB camera (PSP-300) and a GPS receiver unit (PSP-290).

The first game to use the USB camera, which features a microphone that will support online video chat, will be a PSP version of EyeToy, which is slated for release in September. A month later, SCE will provide a firmware update that gives the PSP video/voice over IP (VVoIP) functionality on its own. Kutaragi also noted that the USB camera could be twisted around, allowing users to shoot pictures and video both away from and toward themselves.

The PSP's GPS receiver uses the standard WGS84 reference system. It can get a satellite fix within 40 seconds after starting, and its coordinates are updated once per second. As the first game to make use of the peripheral, SCE is currently developing a GPS-enabled Hot Shots Golf for an October release. Some data libraries for the GPS receiver have already been released to third-party publishers so they can begin making use of the peripheral in their games.

SCE is also planning a number of software upgrades for the PSP. In spring, the company will add Macromedia Flash Player (version 6.0) to its Web browser, Chinese fonts, and support for playing audio via RSS Channels. A few months later in the summer, the handheld will also get support for video via RSS Channels, and an expansion of its UMD video profiles.

However, the biggest upgrade will come between autumn and winter, when Sony plans to launch its "E-Distribution" digital delivery system, which will allow users to download games onto PSPs. Kutaragi further surprised the audience by revealing that SCE is working on a PSone emulator for the PSP that can run games using a close approximation of the original code. Pending approval from third-party publishers, SCE could offer original PlayStation game downloads to PSP owners by year's end.

While Kutaragi didn't talk much about the connectivity between the PSP and the PS3, he gave a few examples of what might be possible, such as using the PSP as a remote control for the next-generation console. He also said the PS3's screen can be transposed onto the PSP and vice versa via Wi-Fi (or USB).

Like his American counterparts, Kutaragi said SCE plans to expand sales of its PSP with new price cuts. In Japan, the company will begin offering the ceramic white color model PSP without the value-pack accessories at the price of 20,790 yen ($177). North America is also getting a price cut starting March 22, when gamers will be able to pick up the portable for just $199, versus the $249 Value Pack currently available. In Europe, the price will drop to 199 euros ($239).

Kutaragi then turned his attention to the subject the audience had been most waiting to hear about--the PlayStation 3. After confirming that the console would launch worldwide in November 2006, he said Sony is planning to produce at least 1 million PS3s a month and to ship 6 million cumulative units by March 31, 2007--a higher production capacity than the PS2's launch.

However, Kutaragi admitted the new schedule would present a challenge for SCE, since the company has never released a machine simultaneously internationally. "It will take 50 to 60 days to ship to some locations by sea, and it will take time to ship to some other locations by land," he said. "We expect that it will be extremely difficult to plan out the PS3's production and shipment, but we will do our best."

Kutaragi also confirmed that the main obstacle to the PS3's completion has been the finalization of the next-generation Blu-ray disc standard, which the console uses. "We initially announced at last year's E3 that the PlayStation 3 will be released this spring," explained Kutaragi. "[But] back then, we were expecting the Blu-Ray's specs to be finalized by the end of August [2005]."

While Kutaragi didn't say it directly, his slide show clearly displayed that copyright protection was the final component that slowed the finalization of Blu-ray's specs. The Blu-ray will use the AACS (Advanced Access Content System) copyright management system, much like its rival, HD-DVD.

Blu-ray may have hindered Sony's plans to debut the PS3 in the spring, but the disc format remains one of the key components for the PlayStation 3. SCE plans to release all PS3 games on Blu-ray Discs (BDs), since current DVDs have weak copy protection by comparison.

SCE estimates its initial BD production capacity at around 10 million units a month. By region, it will be 2.5 million units in Japan, 2.5 million units in Europe, and 5 million units in North America. Kutaragi assured publishers that the cost of pressing a BD-ROM is not as expensive as previously reported, saying that it won't be much more than pressing dual-layered DVDs.

Kutaragi also reiterated that that the PS3's internal media drive will not be a low-end BD player with limited functionality. "The PS3 will feature a BD Player that is up to the latest specifications," he said. "Although some people may think that the PS3 will be a poor man's BD player, it uses the Cell chip, RSX [graphics card], and High-Definition Multimedia Interface [HDMI]. We believe it will be the most cutting-edge player on the market."

Game publishers will also soon begin receiving new versions of PS3 development kits. In April, SCE will distribute DEH-R103X, which features a finalized Cell CPU and RSX GPU. A month later, another kit named DEH-R104X will be shipped, and it will feature a finalized BD-drive and controller--though Kutaragi carefully avoided the subject of the controller.

Both PS3 SDKs will be on loan only, and the final PS3 development kit will not be offered to publishers for purchase until sometime around July. A price hasn't been set for the final kit, though according to Kutaragi it will be "similar to the price of the PS2's development kit when it was initially released."

Aside from the new announcements, Kutaragi took some extra time to stress that SCE is serious about backward compatibility for the PS3. For those thinking the PS3's backward compatibility will work like that of Microsoft's Xbox 360, he emphasized that "the PS3 will feature backwards compatibility with PS and PS2 games from day one."

"I'm emphasizing this because, from what I hear, there are some platforms that haven't been able to completely do this," he said. "It's costly in terms of hardware, but we'd rather [invest] firmly on compatibility from the beginning, rather than to have issues later on."

That said, Kutaragi also commented that SCE is having trouble in some games that don't follow the TRC (Technical Requirement Check) guidelines provided by SCE. He said that backward compatibility isn't always possible when games use the hardware in unexpected ways, saying, "Either it's accidental or on purpose; there's actually a lot of games that don't follow the TRC." Kutaragi used today's conference to ask publishers to follow the TRC guidelines when developing games so that backward compatibility will not be an issue with future PlayStations.

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    Avatar image for spidermon2099
    spidermon2099

    Damn... thats cool... but what will be the price?? I hope an internal modem is included... Online-Gaming is the future!

    Avatar image for damned_beast
    damned_beast

    Xbox 360 will still be a great system when this is out!

    Avatar image for dounowhatiam
    dounowhatiam

    hahah sony fans be ready to be disapointed when your ps3 breaks like me 3 ps2. i ain't no fanboy if you are going to call me a fanboy then i would liked to be called a nintendofanboy any way i am going to get a all next gens systems sooner or later but i am most excited about revoluion, so i am going to get it at lauch day i am also excited a bit about some of the 360 games(too human,blue dragon,re5 and others) right now the least i am excited about is ps3 cause no game on it intersest me a bit not even (mgs4) no prerenderd vidoes can win my money but i know sooner or later a third party is going to make a game that i want.

    Avatar image for wtroutman
    wtroutman

    Everyone just calm down a second and think, competition is good, without it no one would strive to be better then the other company. So wether or not u think one is better then the other just be thankful that they are both there.

    Avatar image for MedevilDragon
    MedevilDragon

    I say wait until you see E3, Sony will hopefull show all their plans for PS3, Nintendo will finnly tell the secret about the REV they have been hiding, and Microsoft will show games that will use the full power 360. Then we'll see...

    Avatar image for jimp1111
    jimp1111

    Well charlesec, we hate you right back. *runs off to play 360* What? you got no next-gen console to play on? Oh, poor you, perhaps that's why you are so bitter and twisted?

    Avatar image for CripticChaos
    CripticChaos

    yay flash on my psp

    Avatar image for charlesec
    charlesec

    i can not stand you friggin xbox fans. that is like the worst system to ever come out. so stay out of the sony stuff. stop talking smack about the psp, ps, ps2, and ps3. you people make me sick. i can talk smack about the xbox or the 360 but not under there comment tabs so just screw off and play your over-sized and weighted boxes.

    Avatar image for Chedda925
    Chedda925

    Sony marketing is just incredible looke what they are doning with the psp and ps3, I like the way they are intergrating it.

    Avatar image for UltimatumCHIEF
    UltimatumCHIEF

    WARNING: post the comments here Only if you are a Sony Funboy.

    Avatar image for whiplash
    whiplash

    My computer runs better playing & looking games than the 360. (And I could care less about Halo... I'm an Unreal man.) Besides the usual awesome Sony lineup, I can't wait for its graphics, leaps and bounds ahead of anything else. The Xbox 360 line-up so far is disappointing, and none of its known games on the horizon look terribly interesting. (Except perhaps Gears of War.) I think Sony has won this round already, and it isn't even out the gate yet. Can you say MGS4, RE5, DMC4, UT2k7, & the Warhawk sequel???

    Avatar image for UltimatumCHIEF
    UltimatumCHIEF

    You can call me a retarded Xbox360 funboy BUT i sad it before and i say it Again, NOTHING IS FOR EVER ! ! ! ! !

    Avatar image for sam20vt
    sam20vt

    i'm just glad to hear some official info regarding the PS3.

    Avatar image for sleepy1978
    sleepy1978

    "There you go, to all the people who think and say all the crap about sony and the ps3. So to all you gay microsoft fanboys, put that in your pipe and smoke it, sony is the biggest and the best and they ALWAYS will remain the best in this world of gaming. Play in sony"s world, live in yours!"" And you are certain of this because...??? Retards like you are the reason for the word "fanboy".

    Avatar image for UltimatumCHIEF
    UltimatumCHIEF

    " tirmothy87 sad that sony is the biggest and the best and they ALWAYS will remain the best in this world of gaming " Well i have one thing to say to you Sony funboy, NOTHING IS FOR EVER. Xbox 360 will Rule soon !

    Avatar image for SeattleRob
    SeattleRob

    Whoa... a couple of well-reasoned remarks finally. ;) I can never really understand why some people so rabidly insist upon your choosing the console THEY are choosing with no concrete reason to do so. Wait for the games. There will be good games for each platform. I'm not a wealthy man, but I (eventually) bought each of the current-gen systems. I have a special place in my heart for Nintendo, and the Revolution is the only system I intend to pre-order. But I *will* own a 360 eventually, once I can manage to get an HDTV; and if the PS3 is as expensive as Ken K. alludes, I might have to start that eBay business I've been thinking about ;) but I'll get one even more eventually. It's about the games, people. It's called GAMEspot, not CONSOLEspot. Find a platform with games you enjoy, and play it with other people that enjoy it. The Rabbi has spoken.

    Avatar image for vecha
    vecha

    "There you go, to all the people who think and say all the crap about sony and the ps3. So to all you gay microsoft fanboys, put that in your pipe and smoke it, sony is the biggest and the best and they ALWAYS will remain the best in this world of gaming. Play in sony"s world, live in yours!" I just wish sony would not make outright lies as much. 4d? Matrix? Emotion? Toy story graphics? Amazes me that so many ignorant fans listen to the lies. I bought the ps2 and will buy the ps3. But only for the games. Not because I like sony.

    Avatar image for tirmothy87
    tirmothy87

    There you go, to all the people who think and say all the crap about sony and the ps3. So to all you gay microsoft fanboys, put that in your pipe and smoke it, sony is the biggest and the best and they ALWAYS will remain the best in this world of gaming. Play in sony"s world, live in yours!

    Avatar image for SalenStormwing
    SalenStormwing

    Why not just get both systems and not worry about which system to get or not? Plus, the PS3's probably gunna be even MORE expensive than the 360 at this point, which is sad when you have to say the 360 looks cheap and affordable to the PS3. Blu-Ray's gunna so jack up the price for the system, that its probably worth getting a 360 now, to play, and then get a PS3 when you can afford it when it comes out. Maybe the Revolution will hit before the PS3 even. Who knows? But yeah, why worry about whats 8 months down the road when you have Next Gen Gaming now? Its not like you're NOT gunna get a PS3 eventually.

    Avatar image for gtafreak621
    gtafreak621

    Okay you really need to use continuums a LOT less Public_Loser

    Avatar image for Lord_Sun_Ce
    Lord_Sun_Ce

    Sony can afford to sell low compared to the manufacturing costs since they plan on having the PS3 in the market for about a decade...more time, better games, more buyers=more $. Coming out first doesn't really matter save to get Microsoft a bit more money and the backing of a few more developers. Sony has always had good backing from developers, which give it a better buy since people generally go for the better games. To me, XBox has some good titles, but mainly relies on Halo and other shooters like that (i.e. Big Red One), and maybe Elder Scrolls. Sony has a wide variety of titles that appeals to everyone, although I'm thinking Microsoft knows this and is buying time to get more developers on their side. Anyways, just wait people and stop judging the PS3...wait for it to come out, for Christ's sake!

    Avatar image for GothicBlack
    GothicBlack

    I think the BIG point that a lot of people are missing about Sony is that the PS3 from the jump was considered a "crossover" machine.... Hopefully someone will write a nice editorial about that. Sony is hedging 3 bets on this system 1) The next gen console war 2) Livingroom set top (on demand marketing) 3) the success of Blu-Ray. of which I think the 3rd is the most crucial. For those of you that missed it. Sony is primary dev on Blu-Ray. Which means they get royaties and licensing for everyone that uses it. Hmmm.... So you tell me, who gives a flip about "the next gen war" when every disc produced over the next 5 years could yield you 2 cents a copy. They won't announce the price until September, too much riding on it to allow someone else to do ROI planning. But they're gonna take a big hit and play the M$ game better than M$ has in the software market. Have the cheapest to achieve a possible monopoly.

    Avatar image for Lsnake
    Lsnake

    This article has renewed some of my faith in Sony, which has admittely been a bit low for a while(Lack of unbiased and useful updates), but this is just the kind of news I wanted to hear. Having downloadable PSone games on the PSP will make it a serously hot portable. Hopefully this will make playing games that was released in other regions easier, assuming they won't limit the games to your location. Having FF7 or Metal Gear Solid on the PSP would be fantastic..

    Avatar image for CrimsonJet562
    CrimsonJet562

    Hmmm, so Kutagari avoided talking about the Ps3... sound to me like he still has a suprise or two for us that he's saving for the GDC next week or E3 in May. I just hope they set an exact price and date in stone. My guess is $449. Logically, they won't go up to $499 and they definitely won't price it at less than the 360, since if you've seen the numbers, the Ps3 costs more to build. Ken also needs to give us something big about that big hard drive and whether we'll have to buy it seperate or what. I don't think they'll stoop to copy Xbox, they'll probably wait another generation or two for that. They've already copied Nintendo with the 3 color options on the Ps3 and the white PsP, so hopefully they won't copy anyone else. Now, which Ps3 am I gonna get, silver or black?

    Avatar image for sleepy1978
    sleepy1978

    ^^ Your grasp of the english language is unprecedented. He may be a Nintendo fanboy, but he can construct a complete sentence

    Avatar image for Clovers16
    Clovers16

    hopefully its not too expensive

    Avatar image for abelmaestro
    abelmaestro

    you are just another nintendo freak why should someone explain you what`s obvious.Were are you boy were did you get from that nintendo will own xbox and ps3,the revolution will be a CRAP!!!even worst than xbox

    Avatar image for BTBAM127
    BTBAM127

    yay!

    Avatar image for Super_Mario15
    Super_Mario15

    I'm suprised. Sony is actually working hard instead of sitting back and taking a smoke. But they're working too hard and too little. They're working hard on doing what they promised, but they're working to little on new ideas. Why? Becuase I could tell that Sony is somewhat copying Nintendo. A PS1 emulator on PSP? I wonder where they got an idea like that? PS3 shipping worldwide all in November? Is that really possible? Shipping a console that's almost worth $900 worth worldwide. And people will actually the expensive overloaded console... just to play video games. What kind of idea is that? Sony only came up with one ingenious idea. And that's eyetoy. And to tell you the truth, eyetoy isn't really that ingenious. Sony is working thier butts off to produce a powerful piece of machinery that is more superior than the best PC. And they call it a video game system... For the love of God, it's a video game system. Not God! PS3 is not God! God is God. A video game system is a video game system! And no wonder Nintendo is stressing the point about, "Inovation is the key to video games!" Instead of making something worth almost $900, and say that the main dish of this machinary is video games, make a console where it's main concern is video games, it's much cheaper, and you can buy an extra if you want for the system. Like the ability to play DVDs. Plus, to avoid the, "Same old thing" comment, make something new! Like a motion sensored controller! That console is the Nintendo Revolution. And so far, I think that it's going to be this: Revolution > Xbox 360 > PS3. But in my book, it's this: Revolution > PS3 > Xbox 360. The Xbox 360 disipoints me greatly. It's just another Xbox. And they have to use an emulator to let it be able to play Xbox1 games. So because of that, Xbox 360 can only play most Xbox1 games. Not all games. But on the other hand, PS3 and the Revolution can play it's whole library of their past games. The Xbox 360 is a major disapointment to me. The PS3 is too expensive, too powerful, and too confusing for the casual person (Regardless if I'm a hardcore gamer). So PS3 will probally not sell out PS2, because of the amount of gamers in the world, and how expensive it is. So not all PS2 owners will buy PS3. The Revolution seems like it's unlimited, there's so much to it, and it's not very confusing. I stand where I am. And if you disagree with me, bark at me or at least try to logically correct me. I'll only listen to logical explanations. Not barks. To bark / explain something to me, my website is www.firegamer.friendpages.com. You can go there to bark / explain something to me. Thanks! And remeber: Nintendo Revolution > Xbox 360 > PS3.

    Avatar image for Shaner258
    Shaner258

    Woman 40-50 do not play DS. The playstation guy is an idiot. He is just jealous of DS

    Avatar image for solsub
    solsub

    "360 is owning them" In what regards, exactly? Unless you're talking about the fact that the 360 came out first, which doesn't really mean anything yet anyway. Only after the PS3 comes out , and pending upon its success, can you say things like that. They may very well end up owning MS.... again....

    Avatar image for eljono
    eljono

    Wow new crap. 360 is owning them. face it fan boys. i will own a ps3 when it eventually comes out, but youre a moron if you dont think MS has an advantage.

    Avatar image for GigaDestroyer
    GigaDestroyer

    This is great coz im a big fan of playstation ever since ps1.

    Avatar image for volumesoxxs
    volumesoxxs

    wow looks technical

    Avatar image for thefjk
    thefjk

    Yeah man! This is awesome... the PS3 will rock!

    Avatar image for kingdrewcifer
    kingdrewcifer

    I believe the ps3 will be in HD if you use the HDMI interface rather than component. I won't say im getting a PS3 until I see a launch lineup. What good is a next gen console without games to play on it? My 360 works just fine so the PS3 is going to have to justify why i should throw down another couple hundred bucks and switch from the most comfortable controller ever made (IMO) to the bat-a-rang.

    Avatar image for 2TrickedOut
    2TrickedOut

    alevige, I had a 3DO and it was amazing at its time. Crash and burn was cool and it had a lot of other cool games. I am excited about the PS3. I doubt sony will have that great of launch either. The developers also won't have much time to get some decent games out on this high tech beast. Lot of the first games will have tons of empty space on the blu-ray disks. In the end it comes down to the games. It can be the most advanced but if it costs to much is to hard to develope for or to expensive to develope on. It won't do verry well. things are looking great for the 360.

    Avatar image for bunty_007
    bunty_007

    PS2:- Nothing new about Ps2... PSP:- As the price droped, Npw we can get it easily... and I like about PSP that flash player is comming for web browsing and Ps games download is Awsome. Ps3:- No problem for delay date but still concious about Price! Question:- When will I get Ps3 in pakistan and on what price? PM me for answer! please

    Avatar image for Solidesnake2004
    Solidesnake2004

    My Response: If they can pull it off by Next March.....Then....Let the good times roll.

    Avatar image for theflyingcow40
    theflyingcow40

    just had to quote this "By contrast, the DS has its strongest following between members of both sexes aged 10 and 15, and it is especially popular among females in their early teens and women aged 40 to 50." probly been posted, but i don't wanna look for it. not for kids my ass

    Avatar image for alevije
    alevije

    Look Mom, Sony is working very hard on a newer attempt to recreate the success of the "Panasonic Real 3DO Interactive Multiplayer", THE MOST CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY NOW!!! Can I have 1 please??. By the way we are the target market, we are rich, not everyone is invited, but who cares?? Proximately only 800+ USD!! Is this cool or what?

    Avatar image for FuguNabe
    FuguNabe

    All I can say is for Sony... the PS2 is alive and well with still great titles coming out. The PSP is a dying afterthought as well as the UMD format. The PS3 sounding good but a possibility of a megahyped but disappointing hardware like PS2. I can't wait to see what it can do as without a question that if PS3 becomes the platform for RPGs like PS2 did then it's success in Japan is ensured. Looking at the current trend with many RPGs being announced for X360 including Mistwalker's 2 big guns the X360 is not looking too bad even for Japan despite it's crappy other FPS and PCish titles. I likely get PS3 for MGS4 but I must wait to hear development of other titles b4 I make further decisions. Smart decision to push release back though. No point rushing a good thing. As of this stage both the Revolution and the PS3 is bound to be mine. Further thoughts into that will be made after the E3. Lets hope Sony has more 'real' stuff to show at this upcoming E3. If not then I'm just simply going to assume Sony is not trying and simply riding the PS and PS2's bandwagon, and the rampant Sony fanboyism.

    Avatar image for K1LLSWITCH
    K1LLSWITCH

    I'm happy to hear that Sony is looking to the future of gaming, instead of looking at the now. Imagine playing splinter cell on the PS3 and shooting a sticky cam onto a wall and using the PSP to operate that camera. Yes Sony has the possiblitly to do this. Unlike a system that will remain nameless (X-box 360) *cough* They only make their games pretty. All flash but no substance. Around this time in the year 2000, Sony would be making announcements on what games to be coming out for their system. Like GTA 3 and MGS 2.

    Avatar image for thewax
    thewax

    Alright! Flash on PSP! :D Now I can watch my flash movies on the go! too bad it isn't flash 8 though

    Avatar image for mezonesxbox
    mezonesxbox

    FUTURE Playstations!!! LOL not even the 3rd one is out yet and they are already thinking about The FUTURE. Are we s*t**id or what? giving money to these people for new junk. Thats why i hate sony they think they are the BIg cheese and push around the little guys. Sega will have its time....

    Avatar image for Hershey07
    Hershey07

    I'm glad that the PS3 is delayed cuz i want them to take their time unlike the 360

    Avatar image for jimbo102671
    jimbo102671

    (1) Why no plans for a PS2 price drop? That console has just about reached the saturation point in the market, hasn't it? (2) Doesn't the extra stuff for PSP make it sound more like an iPod? Where are the games for it? (3) What about the price and HDD use for PS3? Sony, your fanboys have been in the dark for too long and it's time you shed the light.

    Avatar image for pathogenb
    pathogenb

    and the PS3 will use what as storage? ppl are going to be paying through the teeth for PS3 bundles this x-mas. $1200-1500+ with a few games, a hd, and at least one controller. just to play ut2007? i'll pas. but good thing you'll be able to play Fantavision from day one!

    Avatar image for ImChau
    ImChau

    i wonder if the ps1 emulated game files will be over 500megs

    Avatar image for mickel_darmawan
    mickel_darmawan

    I can't wait!! no, I will wait no matter what until that NOV, here I come SONY!!