Launch date announced for Playstation3

Sony today announced the UK launch date for its next generation games console.

The PlayStation3 will hit stores on March 23 priced at £425.

It follows manufacturing problems which forced Sony to push back the PS3's European debut by four months.

About one million units of the console will go on sale in March across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australasia, the technology giant said.

The PS3 first launched in Japan in November and then in the US later that same month.

Shootings, attempted robberies and stampedes were reported in the US when just 400,000 of the consoles initially went on sale.

The PS3's European launch will be accompanied by about 30 new games.

David Reeves, president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), said: "To be able to launch with over 30 titles across every genre shows that this is our strongest launch line-up in the history of PlayStation, and is what PlayStation fans in Europe have been crying out for."

Sony blamed delays in the production of a component for the PS3's new blu-ray disc technology for its postponed European debut.

The delay meant Sony lost out to Nintendo's new Wii console in the lucrative pre-Christmas market.

The PS3 will only be available in the 60GB model for its European launch. The less powerful 20GB model may follow later in the year depending on demand.

Woolworths' head of games Gerry Berkley today said the chain would start taking pre-orders for the PS3 within the next few days.

"We will be battling hard for as many consoles as possible for our customers, but demand will inevitably outstrip supply," he said.

"This is the hottest gaming system since the PS2 launched in 2000. Customers have been asking to pre-order PS3 for some time now."