In a surprising move at the Tokyo Game Show, Sony today cut 20 percent off the expected Japanese price of its forthcoming Playstation 3 gaming console. The entry-level Playstation 3 with a 20 GB hard drive will now carry a ¥49,980 price, down from the ¥62,790 Sony had previously announced. (In U.S. dollars, that’s more than a $100 price cut, from about $540 to $430.) What’s more, Sony plans to include support for HDMI 1.3 in the entry-level 20 GB system, which doubles the bandwidth available to HDMI components and supports 48-bit “Deep Color.” HDMI 1.3 had previously been reserved for the high-end 60 GB model. With a Blu-ray drive and HDMI 1.3 output, the entry-level Playstation 3 suddenly becomes a much more attractive addition to many entertainment systems.
Sony’s price cut currently only applies to the Japanese market—Sony’s initial high pricing for the rest of the world still stands firm—and is seen as a response both to complaints about the PS3’s high launch price (pricier than any game console to date) and challenges from both Nintendo’s forthcoming Wii console and Microsoft’s existing Xbox 360 system. The Nintendo Wii is expected to carry the lowest price tag of any “next-generation” gaming system, and Microsoft recently announced it was bringing its entry-level Xbox 360 Core system to Japan and launching its HD DVD player in the Japanese market, not coincidentally, just before the PS3 is scheduled to hit market November 11. At Sony’s initial Playstation 3 prices, consumers could almost afford to buy both a Wii and an Xbox 360 for the cost of a PS3.
The price cut will, of course, widen Sony’s initial losses on the launch of the Playstation 3. The console’s launch had already been delayed from March to November of 2006, and Sony recently pulled the European launch of the console all the way back to March 2007 due to component shortages.