PS3 shaky debut in Korea

Sony’s PlayStation 3 (PS3) has finally been launched in Korea after months of delays. On June 16, Sony Computer Entertainment Korea held a special launch event at the Ipark Mall in Yongsan, central Seoul. The release came five years and four months after the PlayStation 2 was officially launched in Korea. The festivity was accompanied by female models in tight-fitting outfits holding elements of the PS3, a feature that seems to be essential for any local game or console release.
Hard-core gamers stood in line to buy a limited supply of 300 PS3s, but the crowd was not overwhelming. Standing at the front of the line was Kang Yoo-min of Seoul. He said he had waited since 9 a.m. on Thursday for the Saturday morning launch.
Interestingly, the console launched in Korea is 80 gigabytes ― the largest memory for any PS3 console yet. However, the price here is lower than in most other countries, except for Japan. In Korea, the PS3 is 518,000 won ($560) ― in Europe it is 599 euros ($801), in Japan 59,980 yen ($486) and in the United States it is $599.

Gamers waiting in line on June 16 to buy a limited number of PS3s. Provided by the company

Lee Seong-ug, president and chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment Korea, said that the decision to release the “bigger” PS3 here is because Korea has a strong Internet infrastructure. “We believe that Korean game users will make the most of the PS3 functions, utilizing it for games, films and networking,” he said. “The PS3 is the diamond in the crown of digital convergence technology and this is the country that can optimize the console’s performance and online service functions.”
Lee said that new PS3 services are also waiting to be launched. “We have finished developing a high-resolution video-on-demand service technology for the PS3, which enables Korean users to watch digital content such as films in real-time. We are currently negotiating with Korean firms in order to launch this service,” he said.
Despite the comparatively low price of the PS3 in Korea, the console still faces lots of hurdles. For starters, it is still pricier than Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the Nintendo’s DS Lite (the Wii has not been released in Korea yet).
Also, although the PS3 has multimedia features such as the Blu-ray player, Internet functions and so forth, Koreans still don’t think of game consoles as integrated multimedia players.

The PS3 console in Korea supports 80 gigabytes.

Finally, console games still account for less than 5 percent of the entire game market because of the dominance of online games.
In fact, a source at Microsoft Korea said that the company was waiting for the release of the PS3 because it would help raise recognition of console games on the whole.
Strangely enough, in Korea, Microsoft and Sony are pretty much in the same boat.
Gamers also point out that the PS3 needs to have more unique titles. Currently 15 titles have been released here with the Korean PS3, but 10 of them are available on Sony’s Xbox 360.
Also, only six of them have been converted to a Korean-language interface, thus creating a language barrier for users.

By Wohn Dong-hee for JoongAng Daily

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