PS2 to debut November 30

It's the news console-game players have been waiting for: Sony Computer Entertainment Inc (SCEI) has announced PlayStation 2 will launch in Australia on November 30 and will carry a recommended retail price of $749.

The company also announced plans to release the console in Europe on November 24. Different production schedules relating to DVD zoning requirements mean the console could not be released simultaneously with Europe, according to the company. Coinciding with the local launch, Sony will release around 20-25 PlayStation 2 games and another 15 by Christmas. All current PlayStation games will also be compatible with the new console.

SCEI said the machine will carry a recommended retail price in Europe of 299 British Pounds, 2990 French Francs and 869 German Marks. The prices make the machine slightly more expensive in the United Kingdom, where it will sell for an equivalent of 495 euros (US$445), against the 445 euros in both Germany and France. In Japan, the machine launched with a recommended retail price of 39,800 yen, which is equivalent to 405 euros, and is now selling at a lower price.

The console, SCEI's second-generation player, was launched in Japan during March and, the company announced last week, has achieved sales of 3 million units since its launch.

In addition to featuring faster graphics and better sound than the original PlayStation, the new machine can double as a DVD-Video player and comes with several expansion ports not found on the original machine. These include PC Card slots, which SCEI hopes to use to connect broadband network adapters to the machine.

SCEI has yet to announce exact launch plans for the North American market, although the company said it plans to put the machine on sale in time for the Christmas holiday shopping season.

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