Earlier this week, Sony (SNE) cut the prices of its somewhat outdated PS2, to about $100.
Sony’s John Koller says it’s about competing with Nintendo’s (NTDOY) Wii:
“I think you can look at the PS2 as the competitor to the Wii,” he said. “If you look at the technology and types of games launching for the Playstation 2, it lines up much closer to the Wii than the Wii does to next generation consoles And the Playstation 2 has a significant advantage in terms of broader consumer appeal.”
Sorry, John. The PS2 doesn’t compete with the Wii.
The brilliance of the Wii is it appeals to more casual gamers, and its games reflect a pick-up-and-play sensibility. The Wii’s most successful titles (Wii Sports, Wii Fit, Mario Kart) are designed specifically so new players (or parents playing with their kids) can immediately get into the game and even compete against people with far more experience.
PS2 titles tends to follow the “hardcore gamer” mould, with the “fun” coming from mastering a learning curve and levelling up a character after dozens of hours of play. In this generation, the hardcore audience is split between the Xbox 360 and the PS3, with Microsoft winning the lion’s share.
So what’s the PS2 then, if not a Wii competitor? It’s the budget brand. If a gamer wants to play the upcoming Ghostbusters title but can’t shell out a few hundred bucks, or doesn’t have an HDTV that justifies an expensive console, they’ll pay able to buy the game — with reduced but still decent graphics — on a hundred-dollar PS2.
Sony traditionally has positioned itself as the top-of-the-line brand (it still tries to with its PS3), and we can understand the company’s reluctance to now market itself to the budget-conscious. But there’s nothing wrong with being the value option, and given the PS3’s ongoing lack of traction, Sony needs sales whereever it can find them.
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