Well, it’s official. After months of speculation, and persistent denials, Sony has revealed that starting tomorrow the 80GB PlayStation 3 will be available for the low, low price of $299, and the 160GB model will now be $399.
Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai made the announcement during Sony’s GamesCom 2009 press conference, during which Hirai also revealed that that the long rumored and highly anticipated PS3 Slim will also be available for $299 starting the first week of September.
Both announcements are fantastic, and for many gamers out there who have been wanting to pick up a PS3, but weren’t able to commit to the $399 price tag, this news could not be more welcomed. Once again though, the price cut and the PS3 Slim were both totally expected, and having them “officially announced” was really just a formality. Still, it’s good to hear. Then again, I’m not entirely sure why anyone would throw down $299 for an 80GB PS3 when the 120GB PS3 Slim is coming in a few weeks for the exact same price.
While it’s fun to speculate about such things as consumer motivations, I can’t help but wonder what else Sony is up to with this whole price cut business. Sure, it was a necessary business move, but it also seems to suggest a much sharper strategy, especially when considered against the backdrop of Sony’s new iPhone-ish application store. Sony has clearly noticed the skyrocketing popularity of casual gaming, which owes a great deal of thanks to the $1 to $5 model that has made Apple’s iPhone/iPod Touch such a successful mobile gaming platform.
Perhaps Sony believes these new “bite-sized” games will be just the thing to make up the difference caused by shaving off $100 from the PS3. And these are just the games we’re talking about. This doesn’t even take into account the cash Sony will rake in via micro-transactions on the PlayStation Network, thanks to the introduction of new dynamic themes and premium avatars, both of which will be added in the recently announced firmware 3.0 update.
Sony started out this console generation as the big, black behemoth that was a bit overpriced for most gamers. Now though, with the new app store, the new price cut and, especially, with the Slim version, Sony has repositioned the PS3 as a much more consumer friendly, gamer loving console. And there was much rejoicing.