This is a continuing SPOnG retrospective of the year’s events.
As appointed by our client, we hereby inform you that the web pages on your website (as attached hereto) contain some of our client's confidential documents and photos, which were highly possibly illegally released and posted.”
This was an email we received, from a Taiwanese lawyer. It’s existence was important for two reasons. Firstly, and somewhat more fitting for the purposes of this retrospective, it became the foundations of our most popular story for the month (“PS3 Slim Confirmed? Lawyers Demand SPOnG Removes Pix
”, 18th May 2009).
More importantly, it confirmed something that rumours had been suggesting for many weeks - the PlayStation 3 was about to get a hardware revision. A huge story for many concerned, as Sony’s console was still seen as too expensive to cater for the mass market. A ‘PS3 Slim’ would rejuvenate interest and represent cheaper manufacturing costs, passed down to the consumer in the form of a price cut.
It all started when a Chinese website posted images of what appeared to be the top cover of a new, re-branded PlayStation 3. The authenticity wasn’t assured because the images were covert photos taken inside of a manufacturing plant (“LEGAL UPDATE: New Slim PlayStation 3 Pix Torn Down
”, 14th May 2009). Snaps of various parts of the new console’s casing rolling off the production line were included, alongside shots of packaging that featured a new, curvier ‘PS3’ logo.
The images were taken off the Chinese website quite abruptly, but it didn’t take long for everyone else to grab them - including SPOnG, which was hit by the aforementioned legal document requesting us to remove them. Whilst we were happy to retract potentially illegal material in the images, we weren’t exactly keen on the idea of being gagged, being journalists and all.
The removed images weren’t the only ones leaked however, as more snaps were revealed by the same website, which we did manage to recover and keep online (“PS3 Slim - More Pix from Torn Site
”, 14th May 2009). The PlayStation 3 Slim would go on to be officially revealed by SCEE at Germany’s GamesCom trade show, and would only be one of the company’s major leaks to happen throughout 2009.
Naturally, along with the megaton of new hardware came rumours of price cuts, and CNBC was a little premature to jump the gun by somehow stating that Sony had ‘pre-announced’ a price drop for the PS3 (“PlayStation 3 Price Cut ‘Announced’ by Media
”, 15th May 2009).
Focusing on two comments from corporate executive officer Nobuyuki Oneda; “If we announce our pricing strategies, that affects our inventory level” and “Well, I think you have to guess what will be our pricing strategy”; apparently makes for an announcement these days. Sony raised its sales forecast for the console by 30% for the fiscal year (ending 31st March 2010) though.
With the Electronic Entertainment Expo just a month away from May, this was a prime time for publishers to hype upcoming announcements with, annoyingly, ‘announcement announcements’. The art of building hype for a reveal, which is essentially the a real life metagame or something.