Just a few short weeks ago, it seemed pretty clear how this holiday season was going to shake out for the video game industry – on a few fronts at least.
The long drought of mediocre titles would be replaced with a steady stream of AAA hits. Nintendo would roll out the first next-generation console system. And Microsoft and Sony would battle the Wii U with the best tool at their disposal: A price cut.
Then came Wednesday’s pre-TGS Sony press conference – and all hell broke loose.
The decision to roll out a redesigned, even slimmer PS3 wasn’t a real shocker (nor was the bundling of two admittedly great games). rumours about the redesigned system have been around since E3. But Sony’s decision to price the new entry-level system at a point that’s $20 higher than the current low-end PS3 was downright baffling.
While the Superslim PS3 is still priced lower than the Wii U, Sony opted to bypass an opportunity to boost its market share this holiday. To put it another way: new form factors are all well and good, but at this point in the game – and in the current economic climate – people are making decisions based on price.
“I think the form factor looks like a nice improvement, but if I were Sony I would focus more on lowering prices,” says Colin Sebastian of R.W. Baird. “At this point, in terms of competing at the end of the cycle and in terms of driving more mind share, I don’t think consumers are as interested in the prettiest console they can find, but rather the one that has the best value.”
Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter agrees.
“I think Sony is missing an opportunity to differentiate on price,” he says. “And I think they’re going to be caught flat footed when Microsoft does something like bundling Kinect with the Xbox for $200.”
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