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Playstation 3 to launch in UK on 23 March

PS3 price hike for rip-off Britain

Sony has named the date for the delayed European launch of its PS3 (PlayStation 3) games console - 23 March.

The console made its global debut in Japan on 11 November and hit the US and a handful of other markets a week later on 17 November. It had been due to launch in Europe at about the same time but those plans were put on-hold due to a component shortage that meant Sony wouldn't be able to prepare enough of the gaming devices.

Many customers in territories that use the PAL system (including Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australia) will able to buy the higher specification version of the PS3 for €599 (£395), but games fans in rip-off Britain will be charged £425.

Those prices are considerably more expensive than in Sony's home market where the PS3 costs ¥59,980 (£250) and in the US where it costs $600 (£300).

The cheaper version, which is available in Japan and the US for ¥49,980 (£210) and $500 (£255), respectively, won't be offered in PAL countries due to "retailer and customer demand", said Sony.

A million PS3s will be available during the launch period in the PAL markets, Sony said. The company has shipped more than 2 million consoles in the US and Japan since launch and is targeting total shipments of 6 million consoles by the end of March.

Sony said it plans to offer an update of the system software coinciding with the European launch to "further enhance the entertainment potential of PS3". It didn't specify what features would be added.

A total of 36 PS3 titles will be made available at the launch. Most will be on traditional disc but some will be available via network download.

Launch titles available on disc including: Resistance: Fall of Man; MotorStorm; Genji: Days of the Blade; Formula One Championship Edition; Ridge Racer; Call of Duty 3; Marvel: Ultimate Alliance; Tony Hawks Project 8; Gundam - Target in Sight; Full Auto 2: Battle Lines; Sonic the Hedgehog; Virtua Fighter 5; Virtua Tennis 3; World Snooker Championship 2007; NBA 2K7; NHL 2K7; Blazing Angels Squadrons of WWII; Enchanted Arms; Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Double Agent; The Elder Scrolls lV: Oblivion; Def Jam: Icon; Fight Night Round 3; NBA Street 4 Homecourt 2007; Need for Speed Carbon; The Godfather: The Don's Edition; Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007; Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom; and F.E.A.R.

PS3 titles available at launch via network download: Gripshift; Tekken: Dark Resurrection; Lemmings; Go! Sudoku; Go! Puzzle; Blast Factor; flOw; and Super Rub'a'Dub.

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