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MS, Sony pick 16 May for next-gen console launches

PS3 to beat Xbox 2 by three hours

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The waiting will be over on 16 May. On that day, at 3PM PST, Sony will take the wraps off PlayStation 3. Three hours later, Microsoft will unveil Xbox 2.

Well, that's the hope. Certainly, Sony has scheduled a press event at its Culver City, Los Angeles Sony Pictures facility on that date and time. Microsoft, meanwhile, has booked a venue in downtown LA with a view to a 6PM opening time, GamesIndustry.biz reports.

That either company intends to announce its next-generation console at their respective events hasn't been confirmed, but with the E3 games industry show due to kick off the day after, 17 May, it's a pretty good bet that both companies have big gaming announcements to make.

Sony spokesfolks have hinted in the past that PS3 - or whatever it will be called - will be launched ahead of E3. Past product roadmaps have pointed to an early to mid-2005 launch. The company gave the PowerPC-derived 'Cell' processor on which the new console will be based its first public outing in February. So the omens are good.

As they are on the Xbox 2 front. A memo alleged to have leaked out of games publisher Electronic Arts earlier this year pointed to a late 2005 release date for Microsoft's next console, codenamed 'Xenon'. Next month's launch notwithstanding, PS3 isn't expected to ship until Q1/Q2 2006, so Microsoft could very well want to get in ahead of its rival will a release targeting the Christmas 2005 sales season. Comment made by other industry players, including Nintendo, suggests the business believes Microsoft will try to get in early.

Having not taken the chance to launch Xbox 2 at January's Consumer Electronics Show or February's Game Developer's Conference, Microsoft has to be eyeing upcoming major games industry events of which E3 is by far the biggest and most important.

Microsoft said last week its new hardware will "deliver on the company's vision of the HD Era" by offering "high-definition graphics, extraordinary benefits of constant connectedness and exceptional personalization abilities" as it announced the initial line-up of publishers preparing Xbox 2 titles. ®

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