As suspected, Sony announced a brand new model of PlayStation 3 at its Tokyo Game Show press conference on Wednesday morning. Many of the details of the PS3-4000 leaked out over the summer through FCC filings and early production images were entirely accurate. There are 3 versions of the new PlayStation 3: A 250GB model, a 500GB model, and a 12GB flash memory model. The hardware itself, and its variations isn’t a surprise. The intimidating high price of the console is the real shocker.
Not all models of the new PS3 will be released simultaneously. The 250GB model will be the first to hit the US. Out on Sept. 25, the console will only be available bundled with Uncharted 3 for $269, making it $20 more than the 160GB PlayStation 3 that received a price cut in August 2011. The 500GB model will be out on Oct. 30 at the same $300 price as the existing 320GB model. Sony says it will eventually offer the 250GB model as a standalone at $250, but it didn’t give any indication as to when.
The 12GB flash memory PlayStation 3, meanwhile, won’t be released in the United States at all. Sony is only bringing that machine to Hong Kong, Australia, and European markets where it will sell for €229, nearly $300. Expectations were that Sony would sell this flash memory model around £99 ($154).
In a year when Sony’s global console sales have stagnated, when Nintendo is preparing to release the Wii U at $300, and consumers are spending in record lows at video game retailers in the US, Sony’s pricing for the new PlayStation 3 model is nothing short of insane. Now more than ever, Sony needs a $200 PlayStation 3 on shelves to excite consumers. Without it, there’s no game coming out for the machine that could possibly make Sony’s machine an attractive enough value to make it a multi-million seller.
Evidence suggests that Sony is saving more money on PlayStation 3 manufacturing. The new models are 25 percent lighter and 20 percent smaller than the 2009 hardware revision, the PS3 Slim. The new device doesn’t have built in versions of any of the PS3’s numerous accessories like the PlayStation Eye. Why make a new version of the console? Refinements in the manufacturing process likely make this the cheapest PS3 to produce yet. Why not use those savings in a way that would actually spur sales of the console?
This is the single most baffling hardware announcement from Sony since the $250 bungle that was the PSPGo in 2009. Video games continue to be a major sales force around the holidays. It’s up in the air whether Nintendo’s Wii U will dominate this year or if Microsoft will drop the price on the Xbox 360 and steal another Christmas. We can be sure of this though: Sony is not in the running for first. Mark my words: The PlayStation 3 won’t break 1 million sales in December at these prices.