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Japan gets an early Christmas; Sony lowers price of Playstation 3

In an attempt to compete with the more modestly priced Xbox 360 and Wii, Sony has announced that it will lower the cost of it’s basic Playstation 3 system for its Japanese launch.

According to The Washington Post, the new cost of the core console will be 47,000 Yen ($410) from an original 59,800 Yen ($515.) At present time, this price drop will only take place in the companies home country.

“Sony spokeswoman Nanako Kato said there were no plans to lower the price in other markets.”

Unfortunately for potential customers this news does not at present time affect the price of the 60GB system which, if you recall, will make up 80% of the systems available at launch.

This move creates an interesting dilemma for people hoping to get their hands on a PS3 before Christmas.

With the old pricing, it did not make much sense to purchase a core system instead of shelling out the extra $100 for the 60GB. However, if the supped up version remains at $600 while the core drops to around $400, things get a little more complicated. Not to mention the fact that there will only be about 20,000 or so available in Japan at launch.

As it stands, the discount really isn’t much to get very excited about. If the company decides to expand its discount to other markets and/or include the 60GB version in the price drop, then that’s another story.

Sony cuts price of Playstation 3 to $410 [WashingtonPost]
Analyist: 80% of launch Ps3s to be high end [Gamespot]

News Roundup

My apologies for not posting for awhile. But here’s what you might have missed while I was gone.

Nintendo’s Wii video-game console to undercut Sony’s PlayStation 3 [AP]
Nintendo said yesterday that its quirky game console, the Wii, will go on sale in the United States on Nov. 19 for $250 — much less than Sony’s PlayStation 3, which launches just two days earlier with $500 and $600 models.”

(What a novel concept…launching something on time and at a reasonable price. That might just be crazy enough to work.)

Xfire for Sony Playstation 3 But Only for One Game [Gameshout]
“Using Xfire as a chat communication utility will allow players to find friends in-game and join them in epic battles as well as communicate with them.”

(Continues with Sony’s business model of half-assedry.)

Enchanted Arms Coming to Playstation 3 [Pro-G]
“Given the poor sales of the Xbox 360 in Japan it’s no surprise to see the title heading to the PS3, and the lack of RPGs at the launch of the system should guarantee it some success.”

(Now all you need is a console to play it on.)

Analyst: 80 percent of launch PS3s to be high end [Gamespot]
“The split between premium (60GB) and core (20GB) units at US retail stores should be roughly 80/20 [percent]”

(Good news for the Ebay junkies hoping to cash in on the feeding frenzy this Christmas. Not too big of a deal for everyone else.)

Taking care of business

Just two days after Sony disappointed its European Playstation fans by delaying the launch of the PS3 in Europe until March 2007, Microsoft gave them another reason to buy its Xbox 360 system instead — as if they needed one.

From September 20th until the 29th, Microsoft will be offering a free trial of its Xbox Live Gold Membership status to any of its European customers with a broadband connection.

The Xbox Live service gives gamers access to all of the Xbox 360 titles and allows users to play online multiplayer matches against thousands of opponents across the world. It also sports a number of other features including chat options, free trailer and information downloads and TrueSkill™ matchmaking system that helps pit you against your ideal opponent.

While a week of free Xbox Live service is probably not enough to sway most Playstation fans, it might be enough for those gamers who were on the fence with the Xbox last year and vowed to wait for Sony’s console.

Also cashing in on Sony’s foibles are the good folks at Nintendo, who plan to make an announcement in the next few weeks about the status of its upcoming Wii console. So far the company seems to be trucking along, claiming to have recently acquired the first shipments of the Wii’s “Broadway” microchips from IBM.

Sony may be on the verge of collapse, but its competitors are right on schedule.

Offical Xbox UK site [Xbox]
Free Xbox Live for Euro Gamers [Gamespot]

IBM Delivers Wii Chips to Nintendo [Cnet]

Don’t Let the Air Conditioning Fool You, We are in Hell

If you had whimsical dreams of skipping to your local Best Buy on November 17th, grasping a new Playstation 3 console from the shelf and lovingly stroking it as you scamper out of the store, you may want to rethink your strategy.

After dropping the bombshell this morning that Sony would delay its European launch of the Playstation 3 until March 2007, the company has now come forward and stated that the number of consoles available in the United states and Japan would drop from 2,000,000 units to just 400,000 in the US and a mere 100,000 in Japan.

Several weeks ago, Sony Computer Entertainment America President Kaz Hirai spoke with the good folks over at Gamespot and stated that the company was planning to ship two million units worldwide by the end of the calendar year. He was later corrected by Sony’s PR team, who insisted the company was planning to launch two million units at first, with an additional two million by the end of the calendar year.

Clearly that isn’t going to happen.

What does this 75% cutback mean to you? A couple of things.

First and foremost, Microsoft encountered serious problems meeting the demand for its Xbox 360 console last year and, barring a miracle, Sony stands to fall into the exact same pitfalls.

“According to the NDP Group, North American sales totaled 326,000 units in November. In Canada, all 32,100 units available for launch were sold. By the end of 2005, Microsoft stated it sold roughly 900,000 units.”

As of now, Sony’s expected numbers for the Playstation 3 aren’t much higher than that. So this probably means the outrageously long lines at retail stores, exorbitant prices on auction sites like Ebay and, of course, hundreds of thousands of disappointed customers associated with the Xbox 360’s launch will haunt PS3’s as well.

According to UBS analyst Michael Wallace, this cutback may also spell disaster for some of the upcoming titles promised to consumers.

“We also think this delay could cause some of our companies to push some of their PS3 games out until March 2007 to take advantage of a larger installed base,” he said in a statement. “We note that Activision (three launch titles), Electronic Arts (four to five launch titles), and Take-Two (three titles by January 2007) currently have the greatest exposure to the PS3 at launch, so they could be impacted the most by this delay.”

With this turn of events, Sony may have delivered its own knockout punch more than two months before the fight even begins. If Nintendo even remotely has its act together come November and if Microsoft pulls through with some of the Xbox’s more popular titles come Christmas, the Playstation is in for some serious trouble.

Report: US, Japan PS3 launch numbers slashed [Gamespot]

Hirai: PS3 Will Keep — or Surpass — PS2’s Market Share [Gamespot]

XBox 360 Launch [Wikipedia]

Breaking! Sony Delays Something! Again!

Sony confirmed today on its official UK Playstation site that the anticipated November launch of the Playstation 3 will be pushed back to March 2007 in Europe, The Middle East, Australasia and Africa.

The company is citing production problems with the blue laster diodes needed for use with the Blu-ray Disc drive as the primary reason for the delay.

“With so many different territories and languages to support, the PAL market is the most complicated region in which to launch the system, and is therefore the most pragmatic choice to bear the brunt of the shortage of components. Of course, this fact does not make the decision any less difficult to make.”

So Sony took a look at its options and thought, “Ok, we’re screwed, but how can we avoid being totally fucked?” Unfortunately for the millions of eager gamers in the European Union, they were the answer.

The Playstation staff insists that the November launches in Japan and The United States will remain on schedule, but there’s still plenty of time between now and then for something else to go wrong.

Playstation 3 Launch Dalyed in Europe [Playstation]

Playstation 3 Delayed in Europe [Gamespot]

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News Roundup

Playstation 3: HDMI cable not included [HDBeat]
“The U.S. Playstation website has confirmed that Sony’s upcoming console will not include an HDMI cable in the box.”

Universal Delivers Marquee HD-DVDs to Combat Playstation 3 Release [Themanroom]
“Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced ‘King Kong,’ ‘The Hulk’ and ‘Waterworld’ will be released on HD-DVD November 14, three days before Sony’s Playstation 3 gaming console hits stores with an embedded Blu-ray Disc player.

Sony Expects Playstation 3 to Last a Decade for its Owners [TechWhack]
“Japanese maker of videogame consoles Sony has said that PlayStation 3’s life cycle will last for 10 years.”

Fight Night Round 3 Coming to Playstation 3 this Christmas [Gameinfowire]
“The best-selling next-generation sports game on Xbox 360, EA Sports’ ‘Fight Night Round 3′ continues to innovate with exclusive features for the Playstation.”

Sony Launches Official Playstation 3 Site in Japan [Macworld]
“Three weeks ahead of the first public unveiling of its Playstation 3 console, Sony has launched an official Web site for the new console.”

Don’t call it a comeback

After a brief hiatus, PS3week will be resuming its lost art of daily posting beginning with the previous post about Sony’s European website (Check it out and let us know what you think of it.)

By now you must be wondering things like, “Where have you been?” “Who is this new person whose writing style and voice are slightly different than previous posters?” “Should I forego buying a 60G Playstation 3 when it comes out and instead purchase both a Wii and X-Box 360 for the same price?”

Well, the answers to those questions are as follows: 1) Rob’s twin brother George was recently jailed for treason. He escaped and Rob, in a hilarious turn of events, was mistaken for his brother and arrested. Thanks to the wonders of the internet and the site he was able to escape.

2) I am Eric, the newest edition to the PS3week staff. In the next few months I will be leading you on a grand adventure to see if the Playstation 3 will be the biggest disaster in gaming history or if Sony’s previous successes will be enough propel the new system to the top of the industry.

3) Yes.

So keep checking back for future Playstation 3 news and keep a lookout for a roundup of what’s been going on while Rob was in prison.

Lights, Cameras, Cameras and more Cameras

When you visit Sony’s new official European Playstation 3 website, one of the first things you see is an explanation of how to navigate the site. Never a good sign.

The site looks relatively simple at first glance. It is entirely flash-based and features a white room plastered with screen shots pulled from future games, a few plasma screens tossed in for effect (they don’t do anything) and 21 quasi creepy cameras scattered throughout. Click on one of the cameras and you are transported to another page containing either screenshots and brief overviews of games or facts and explanations about the new system. If you share the same distaste for solely flash-based sites that we do, there are pulldown links to everything at the top of the screen making all of the flash content completely unnecessary.

I spent about an hour navigating the site only about 20 minutes of which was spent viewing actual content. The other 40 was spent contemplating the concept of infinity, making a sandwhich, eating it and staring at an almost blank screen (I say “almost” because there was ever-promising “loading” text on the top right corner for the majority of my stay there.)

There are no new shocking revelations or announcements on the site. The screen shots from some of the games are worth taking a look at and so are the pictures and information about the system itself.

There is also a short movie entitled “Real Time” under the “PS3 Stories” section of the site that was interesting. The trailer akins the experience of playing against the computer on older generation consoles to boxing with a sandbag, whereas the Playstation 3’s AI will be like fighting a real opponent. I’m skeptical, but the trailer itself is well done and offers a simple message. There is promise of more videos to come on the site, so check back for future updates.

Money money money moooney….. MUUUUH-ney

If you haven’t seen this yet, it’s probably the funniest Wii vs. PS3 parody video yet. Not that I know of that many. But this one is the best.

It turns out there will be more PS3’s for the rest of us, since the editor of the Official Playstation Magazine - get this - isn’t buying one. Apparently the salaries that magazine pays its editors do not include $600 discretionary expenses.

But is Ms. Jongewaard mistaken? After all, the Official PS3 Web site is now detailing all of the wonderful benefits of the system, including its Blu-ray technology, and the bonus feature of the extra adapter you get to pay for if you want to save PSX and PS2 games. An excerpt from the benefits site*:

“$600 in $1 bills would weigh approximately 98 lbs. Carrying this amount of weight could physically strain the average gamer to the point of coronary heart failure in a mere 4 seconds. Therefore the PlayStation 3 removes the danger of a heart attack and replaces it with the opportunity for hours of safe, stationary entertainment.”

Besides, all of that is trifling compared to the $900 you’ll pay for an HD-DVD enabled XBox 360, according to the Internet’s favorite news source, an unconfirmed rumor.

*Not actually an excerpt. Actually made up.

Somebody get Jerry Springer!!!

Me-ow! Richard Teversham, head of marketing for Xbox Europe, recently made some catty remarks about the PS3’s pricing and launch, going so far as to suggest that “I think a lot of gamers out there are going to be saying ‘I’ll wait for the price to drop.’” Saucy! Can he say that?

XBox Japan’s boss fired a salvo too, calling the PS3 “too expensive.” Somebody get some ice, cuz that was a buuuuuurn!

And to ensure the soiling of Sony CEO Howard Stringer’s trousers, Teversham made various vague and supposedly intimidating portents regarding different pricing packages for the XBox 360.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this was some kind of coordinated media blitz…

…On the other hand, Sony DID lose $231 million in the last quarter alone. And, uh, it’s gonna get worse.