New PS4 Japan Pricing

Atsushi Morita, president of Sony Computer Ent. Japan & Asia.

Atsushi Morita, president of SCE Japan & Asia.

SEPT. 15, 2015 • Consumers in Japan are getting an official price cut on the PlayStation 4 from ¥39,980 ($332) to ¥34,980 ($290). The new MSRP goes into effect on October 1. Atsushi Morita, the president of Sony Computer Ent. Japan & Asia, made the announcement at Sony’s Tokyo Game Show news conference. Morita said the reason for the price cut was because Sony wanted to bring back consumers who have yet to upgrade to the latest console generation, as well as make it easier for those who have never owned a video game system to do so. The lowered MSRP is specific to the market in Japan and does not extend to Europe or North America. In related news, Morita also disclosed that the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset has been officially named PlayStation VR. New gold, silver, steel black and crystal variant limited edition Dual Shock 4 controllers are set for Japan, with silver and gold also destined for Europe and North America.

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Impact: With the best selling console this generation, Sony feels a bit insulated from reducing the price of the PS4 in the U.S. and Europe. That the company feels compelled to do so in Japan is a testament to how significantly consumer tastes have changed in that market with the movement toward mobile gaming. Looking at a cross-section of weekly sales reports from Famitsu, the PlayStation 4 will sell around 10,000 units a week when there are no new blockbuster releases for the system. That number can surge past 50,000 for a big title like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain that debuted the first week of September. By comparison, Japanese consumers will buy as many PS4s in four outstanding sales weeks as are sold in a down month in the U.S. However, we don’t foresee that the lower price will make that much of a difference in this scenario. This is not a question of quality of the system or its games but simply reflects the reality that Japanese consumers are less enthralled with home systems than their smartphones, as the extent of big mobile hits such as Monster Strike will attest.

Who knew VR could be so fun.

Who knew VR could be so fun?

Giving its virtual reality product a final name shows Sony is serious about releasing the accessory as projected during the first half of next year. The other sign is that Sony used the Tokyo Game Show to roll out its first teaser spots supporting PlayStation VR. These ads are fun and push for an inclusiveness of non-core gamers that a name like Project Morpheus would not suggest. More telling, the spots betray how challenging it is to convey the VR experience. In most cases Sony chose not to show the actual headset in favor of a stylized see-through headset-like overlay. We can appreciate shooting to bring in mainstream consumers for PlayStation VR with highly active casual games, and hope Sony succeeds. Our view however, is that it will be very difficult for any VR device to appeal outside a core audience.