Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sony gets agro on pricing

The rumors were true: the 40 GB PlayStation 3 drops in America on November 2, for the low, low price of $399. This may just be cheap enough to convince people to start buying the damn thing. The Spider-Man 3 Blu-Ray pack-in is a nice touch, too. And with the 80 GB model dropping to $499 -- which still includes a fairly decent pack-in game -- Sony is very quickly putting themselves in a tenable market position. Remember, this all happens less than a year after the 60 GB model launched at $599. That's probably the fastest price drop in history.

The problem, of course, is the 40 GB model's lack of backwards compatibility. For all the bad will generated by the initial launch price and Sony's various PR pronouncements from Bizarro World, you'd have thought a simple price cut would turn gamers around right quick. Instead, they have to go and neuter a fairly important feature to the PlayStation brand. I won't go so far as to say that backwards compatibility is essential -- the Xbox 360 seems to have done just fine with its own, uh, unique interpretation of BC -- but it's a hell of a lot more important than, oh, SIXAXIS control.

Is it a dealbreaker? I don't think so. I think the price is the single biggest thing people have held against the PS3. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we hardcore gamers -- we who read and comment on gaming blogs, for example -- really don't represent the majority of consumers in this market. We are the most vocal and most visible, but your average holiday shopper just wants the shiny new thing. And now it may nearly be affordable.

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