MS execs seize on PS3 ‘07 slip fears

With Microsoft gearing up for a global roll-out of its next-gen system this Christmas, while Sony maintains a tentative ‘spring ‘06’ launch date for PS3, Xbox UK boss Neil Thompson predicted his firm could have a huge lead in Europe.

“I’ll be happy to compete whenever they turn up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not until spring ’07,” he told MCV. “If they hit Xmas ’06, then maybe it’ll be a very thin launch; a launch in name only.”

While Sony has never specified territories for its spring ’06 window, few expect it will attempt a similar global release strategy to Microsoft, with many in the European trade expecting a late ’06 PAL release at best, while others fear a longer delay.

Speaking at X05, a senior European publisher boss told MCV he “wouldn’t be remotely surprised” if PlayStation 3 didn’t arrive here until spring ’07 – and with a price tag as high as £499.

Elsewhere, Microsoft’s US execs took a further swipe at Sony for its failure to show-off any playable PS3 software. “We don't want to hide behind videos, we don't want to hide behind CGI movies, we don't want to hide behind false promises – everything we showed on stage was real,” said Xbox supremo J Allard. “Our medium is an interactive one. Showing isn't enough."

Sony, which has yet to reveal any concrete details on its PS3 online strategy ahead of the system’s proposed launch next spring, also drew criticism from chief Xbox officer Robbie Bach, who said: “I was stunned they didn’t announce anything at E3 or TGS. Whatever they do, they’re going to be chasing us for a long, long time.”

Xbox 360 launches in Europe on December 2nd.

Opinion - J Allard, Corporate VP, Microsoft

“There’s a big gap between what Sony claims and what they’ve shown. You might have thought our X05 presentation was a bit on long side, but they’ll need an eight-hour press conference pretty soon just to give people confidence in that spring ’06 date they’ve mentioned.

There’s a lot of stuff they just don’t have in place yet. They make nice movies, though.

The differentiation in the next generation is going to come through the software and the services. If you put the best tools in the hands of the best developers you’re going to get the best games.

Then you look at the service, and we’ve got a big head start. It takes a lot of hard work to build an online service.”

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