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Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) will launch a 40GB version of the PlayStation 3 console, at an RRP of $699.95 this Thursday, 11 October. The price of the 60GB version of the console will remain unchanged.

Providing a cheaper alternative to the $999.95 60GB version of the console, the new PS3 will come with a Sixaxis wireless controller, Wi-Fi, upgradeable firmware and HDMI connectivity.

What it will not have however, is backwards compatibility with PlayStation 2 games – something the company says is due to both “reduced emphasis placed on this feature amongst later purchasers of PS3, as well as the availability of a more extensive line-up of PS3 specific titles (a total of 65 titles across all genres by Christmas).”

Another point of difference will be two USB 2.0 ports, rather than the four found on the 60GB version, and no multi-memory card port.

“The introduction of the new PS3 has been the result of extensive research into the entertainment needs and preferences of the next generation of PS3 owners,” said Michael Ephraim, Managing Director SCE Aust. and New Zealand.

“It has allowed us to deliver an extremely advanced, yet incredibly affordable High Definition gaming and entertainment system, configured to the needs of the next generation of PS3 owners. PS3 has always been the device of choice for the discerning gamer and entertainment seeker, the new PS3 along with our extensive list of new and exclusive game franchises makes it, more than ever, the perfect High Definition entertainment system.”

US consumers have been offered a 20GB and 60GB version of the PS3 since launch, though Australia and Europe have only had the option of buying a 60GB version. In Europe, SCE has confirmed a price cut of the 60GB PS3, but according to a local SCEA spokesperson, the company has no plans of a price cut here in Australia.

“The 60 GB is staying at $999.95 in Australia but will be run out by the 40GB pretty shortly,” he said.

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