All signs point to a major offensive by Sony in the coming days and initial reports indicate it may be an offensive so massive as to turn the tide in the current console war. Mounting evidence in the past few months all seem to reveal an impending push by Sony to put their Playstation 3 console into more living rooms across the world then ever before.
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Recently we’ve all seen signs of a new weapon in the Sony arsenal, the rumored PS3 slim, with German Amazon site, Amazon.de, even providing a priceless listing. Videos and packaging photos leaked to the internet seem to confirm the console’s existence; however Sony has refused to comment on the matter. Further evidence out of Japan has recently suggested that the 80GB PS3 console has been grounded, with retailers reporting that as of the end of this week no more orders for the 80GB PS3 will be accepted at the request of the manufacturer further fueling speculation that a new PS3 console is waiting in the wings.
Massive Troop Buildup
Digitimes out of Taiwan has confirmed orders placed for key PS3 components have suddenly doubled versus the same period last year. This mysterious and sudden ramping up of PS3 production indicates that Sony is expecting PS3 sales to increase dramatically, and soon.
Rumblings from the company themselves have added further clues that the timing is right for Sony to strike. During recent financial updates Sony reasserted their goal of shipping 13 million PS3 units this year, a 30% increase from the year prior. It was this certainty that Sony would still meet these targets that raised more than a few eyebrows. Currently, PS3 sales have slowed, a victim of nervous consumers tightening purse strings that have ravaged the entire gaming industry this year. In order for Sony to reverse this trend, more than a few hotly anticipated software releases are necessary. The only force known to gaming that can result in such a dramatic up tick in console sales is a price cut.
And to that end, comments recently issued during a shareholders conference call by none other than Sony CEO, Nobuyuki Oneda, indicate that PS3 manufacturing costs have decreased by a full 70% from the PS3’s initial launch. This statement clearly runs contrary to statements made by Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer in early July when asked about pending price cuts.
August 18, 2009 – D-Day
August 18 marks the date of Sony’s scheduled 3 hour keynote event at the Games Development Conference in Cologne, Germany and it is here that Sony is expected to launch their attack. The uncommonly long keynote was announced after the E3 electronics expo where it was hoped that Sony would unveil Playstation price cuts after months of rumors and industry pressure. However, Sony did not let slip their plans at E3 and now industry watchers fully expect Sony to make their plans known in the coming weeks.
The Turning Tide
So what would a price cut coupled with a new design mean to the current state of the console wars? In a word, everything. Industry and consumers have been extremely vocal for the past 2 ½ years regarding the price point of the Playstation 3. Despite being adopted by consumers at a much faster rate then sales seen by Microsoft’s rival Xbox 360 console in it’s first 2 ½ years, the more technically advanced and Blu-Ray enabled PS3 was routinely criticized for it’s price point in comparison to it’s Microsoft and Nintendo counterparts and the system has not enjoyed the same sales successes as it’s predecessor, the Playstation 2. However, that could all change in a matter of days.
Slowling Wii sales due to a lacking software lineup compared to the year before coupled with no price relief in sight have caused Nintendo stock and profits to slump dramatically. Even Microsoft’s Xbox 360 which had enjoyed a tremendous run following a price cut last September seems to be fizzling out, with the most recently released sales showing the 360 console having its worst quarter in two years.
There’s no doubt that a PS3 console priced similarly to its competitors would enjoy a huge boost in sales. Even at a price point currently double the entry level Xbox 360 console; Sony’s Playstation 3 has stayed neck and neck with the 360 for the past two calendar years. With it’s Blu-Ray and media playback abilities, excellent game lineup and reliable hardware a PS3 priced competitively with the Xbox 360 certainly has a lot to offer compared to the older and notoriously unreliable 360 hardware and consumers reluctant to dish out ongoing fees to take their gaming online with the Xbox 360 may be swayed by Sony’s free and flourishing online game service, the Playstation Network.
And while a cheaper Xbox 360 was unable to halt the Wii’s advance, any gamer worth his salt faced with a choice between the Wii and the Playstation 3 knows that Sony delivers the most consistently reviewed video games and versus a console with no media playback abilities or high definition support, the fully featured Playstation 3 would certainly be the savvy consumers choice for the best bang for your home entertainment buck. Add to this the impending launch of Sony’s more advanced motion capture controllers that were in development long before Nintendo’s Wii-mote and suddenly even Nintendo should start looking over its shoulder.
Keep your eyes on Sony this coming August 18th for more details. And be prepared to duck and cover.