Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has denied that a price cut is on the cards for its flagship home console, the PlayStation 2.
Rumour has steadily escalated that SCEE has a price cut planned for the PS2 in Europe, as it struggles to cope (as we all have!) with the explosive changes in the Euro market of late. The company will have set its price point planning and marketing strategy closely around outdoing its opponents on several key points, price being the deciding factor in eliminating the threat from Microsoft.
With Microsoft launching into the European market at £299, Sony knew it was sitting pretty. The Xbox hardly touched the PlayStation 2’s impressive stranglehold on the American market, through its launch and beyond, claiming less than 10% of the entire market share in the region. As the US is widely considered as the most Xbox-friendly region, this seeming inability of Microsoft’s to compete with its debut machine, a more powerful, better-equipped console across the board, boded well for the PlayStation 2’s European future. If the Xbox could not dent its most receptive market when pitched at en equal price point to the market leader, what chance did it stand entering the difficult European arena pitched at £100 more than the consumer had been conditioned to pay?
The answer to this came late last week when Microsoft took the unprecedented and embarrassing step of hacking a clean ton off the suggested retail price of the Xbox, after only six weeks on sale.
Then, to the great surprise of the entire games industry, Nintendo made the arguably unnecessary move of reducing the price of the GameCube to the almost irresistible (expected) retail price of around £129, a panicky, knee-jerk reaction without doubt. The Xbox comes equipped with Ethernet adapter and hard drive and is officially the most powerful machine on the market. The GameCube’s main marketing focus, aside from the retro-chic of its design and the fact that it carries a Nintendo badge, was the fact that it was less than half the price of the Xbox, and more powerful than the PlayStation 2, as well as being £150 cheaper. This state of affairs has been turned in its head.
At this point in time, The PlayStation 2 should be the least appealing machine for the UK consumer. The Xbox dwarfs it in performance (though not size), and carries the same price tag. Furthermore, to go online, PS2 owners will have to fork out an as yet undisclosed fee to equip their machines with broadband adapters and hard drives, both of which come as standard with Microsoft’s console. To compound this state of affairs, the GameCube, again a more powerful machine, though lacking the storage capabilities and connectivity of the Xbox, is entering the market at £70 less than the asking price of a PlayStation 2. Sony is impressively and understandably complacent about this situation.
“We have no plans to drop the PlayStation 2 price at this time, “said Jonathan Fargher, head of PR at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “We reduced the price of the hardware after a year on sale as we could pass a saving onto the consumer. This was due to improved manufacturing techniques. We have many exclusive, high-profile titles due for release this year, including Final Fantasy X, Virtua Fighter 4, etc…”
And on the future of the Psone, Fargher said, “We continue to back the Psone to the full and it will be around for a long time yet. In fact, we are poised to release the portable screen for it this week, a move that will take the console to new environments and ensure its longevity.”
So, Sony has no plans to cut the PlayStation 2. And why on Earth should it? The PlayStation 2 is the dominant force in the global industry and that is something that doesn’t look like changing in any way. Perhaps only the PlayStation 3 will be able to beat it?