Sony chief defends $599 PlayStation 3 as "more than a toy"

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Sony chief defends $599 PlayStation 3 as "more than a toy"

Tokyo (Japan) – In the latest edition of the gaming magazine Fumitsu, which hit the stands in Japan last Friday, Sony Computer Entertainment president and group CEO Ken Kutaragi is quoted as defending the price point Sony chose for the PlayStation 3, by implying that price truly would be expensive if the PS3 were considered just a toy.

“If you consider the PlayStation 3 a toy, then yes, it is an expensive toy,” Kutaragi is quoted in multiple translations as saying. “However, it is more than a toy. It is a PlayStation 3. And it is the only PlayStation 3. I hope that those who understand this will gladly purchase it.”

Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios President Phil Harrison and President/CEO Ken Kutaragi demonstrate the wireless PS3 controller at an E3 Expo event on 8 March 2006.

Although the entry-level price point for PS3 was announced at the E3 Expo earlier this month at $499, the model at that price point will reportedly not contain the digital HDMI 1.3 connection necessary for the PS3 to connect to a 1080p display. That connection will only be available, according to reports, on the $599 model, which is why some analysts and observers this month have begun referring to the console – due for release this November – using terms such as “a six hundred-dollar unit.”

Kutaragi is also cited in translations as saying that the original PlayStation and PS2 both initially sold for as much as 10,000¥ more than their respective competitors, but they managed to sell to shortages at launch time.

During E3 a few weeks ago, both industry veterans and analysts we spoke with praised Sony’s choice of $499 as exactly balanced on the razor’s edge of the price point they were looking for. Most acknowledge the unspoken fact that Sony is likely to lose a significant amount on each console sold, especially with its dual-layer Blu-ray Disc player built-in. But this praise died down to at least Barry Bonds-like levels when it was later revealed that only the more expensive model of the two would feature the HDMI connector.

Still, many told us, even the six-hundred-dollar mark shouldn’t be too much of a concern for very long, since retail prices for the console should be expected to follow the legacy of their forebears, and drop to more mainstream levels. The general consensus from sources seemed to favor a reduction of as much as $200 in street prices over a two-year period.