Less than five months after introducing its PlayStation 3 video gaming console, Sony Computer Entertainment has officially discontinued the less expensive 20 GB version of the system in North America, leaving only the $599 60 GB edition available.
“At launch, we offered two separate models of PlayStation 3 to meet the diverse needs and interests of our PlayStation fan base,” said Sony America’s Dave Karraker in a statement. “Initial retail demand in North America was upwards of ninety percent in favor of the 60 GB SKU, so we manufactured and shipped-in accordingly. Due to the overwhelming demand for the 60 GB model from both retailers and consumers, we have ceased offering the 20 GB model here in North America.”
The announcement follows closely on the heels of Sony removing the 20 GB edition fro its own online SonyStyle store, and electronics retailer Best Buy ceasing to stock the units.
In addition to expanded storage capacity (for games, online downloads, and Sony-distributed content), the 60 GB edition of Sony’s PlayStation 3 offers built-in Wi-Fi wireless networking, additional media card capabilities, and flashy chrome trim.
Cancellation of the 20 GB edition of the PS3 in North America probably means the system will never be introduced in Europe, Australia, and other regions where the PlayStation 3 has recently launched, but where only 60 GB editions have been available. Sony had said it planned to introduce lower-priced versions of the PS3 in those regions by mid-year.
Recent reports have Sony prepping a new edition of the PlayStation 3 with an 80 GB hard drive; it’s possible Sony may lower its price for the 60 GB edition when a higher-tier model is introduced, effectively making today’s $599 machine the “budget” option for gamers.
Some gamers have groused that the 60 GB edition of the PS3 outsold the 20 GB edition so heavily because retailers simply didn’t offer the 20 GB in sufficient quantities for interested customers to buy them easily. Others point out that gamers who are willing to pay $499 for a console can be persuaded to spend $599 for a top-of-the-line system.