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Sony Taunts PS3 Customers with PS2 Price Cut

Date: 04-09-2009   Click: 1904

Sony has dropped the price of its aging PS2 home console to $99, eliciting yawns and sighs of frustration across the internet. After their March 31st announcement was hyped by several gaming news sources, some observers believed the long awaited PS3 price cut had finally arrived. And rightly so – everyone, from Wall Street analysts to fans, to Microsoft spokespeople, think that it is time for the Japanese hardware manufacturer to cut consumers a break on its current-gen console. Stalwart executives in Japan have apparently won out in an internal struggle over what to do about pricing – the strong Japanese yen makes a price cut nearly impossible without the company bleeding more red ink than an episode of Afro Samurai.

Why then, has Sony insisted on lowering the price of its 9-year old Playstation 2? Will the reduction (by $30 in the United States), make much a difference at retail? Have potential consumers really been sitting on the fence waiting for the price to drop below one hundred dollars?

One area where this price drop could have an impact is in the developing world. Gamers in countries like Brazil and Saudi Arabia have long complained about the high cost of gaming consoles due to international exchange rates and high import taxes in their home countries. A cheaper PS2 could actually be aimed at competing with the new Zeebo console in developing markets. Indeed, in a prepared statement, Sony CEO Jack Tretton seemed to indicate that this price cut was not aimed at wealthy countries:

“PlayStation 2 set the industry standard for worldwide mass market adoption and is a clear embodiment of Sony's commitment to platforms that deliver 10-year product lifecycles. Demand for PlayStation 2 remains strong throughout the world, and the new USD 99 price point will bring in new consumers who will discover how PlayStation platforms are an outstanding choice for their gaming and home entertainment needs."

And again, there was more talk of the famous 10-year life cycle. With sales of the PS2 dramatically trailing off year-over-year, perhaps Sony executives felt a price cut could energize sales enough to keep the console relevant in key markets. Since backwards compatibility is no longer guaranteed in the new PS3 hardware, a cheaper PS2 also eases the pain for hardcore gamers who want to access titles from the immense PS2 back catalog.

Meanwhile, a PSP price drop is nowhere in sight.

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