SEPT. 20, 2012 • Sony will ship a refresh of the PlayStation 3 for the holidays. The PlayStation 3 redesign benefits from a re-engineering of its internal components that nets a 25% reduction in weight, and a 20% space savings compared to the current model on sale. Stacked up against the original launch version, the savings in weight and space are more than 50%. Three new SKUs are shipping between September and October. Arriving first in North America on Sept. 25 is a replacement for the $249 160GB model. Priced at $269, the new 250GB PS3 comes bundled with Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, plus a voucher for $30 in bonus content for CCP’s DUST 514. Three days later Europe and other PAL territories will receive a 500GB model priced at €299. Japanese consumers will see two SKUs for sale on Oct. 4: a ¥24,900 ($318) 250GB version, and ¥29,800 ($380) 500GB model. On Oct. 12, Europe and Hong Kong are getting a new €229 entry-level PS3 with 12GB of Flash memory instead of a hard drive. Rounding out the launch on Oct. 30 is a 500GB PS3 for North America priced at $299.
Impact: This hardware refresh for the PlayStation 3 makes a great deal of sense on several levels. Any introduction of new game hardware creates some excitement at retail – it is a new story to tell. The PS3 is still the most powerful console in distribution compared to the Xbox 360, and even the new Wii U. What’s more, the Wii U is launching at $300, making the 250GB a compelling alternative at $269. While there is some argument that Sony is misguided to raise the entry price by $20, we don’t see this as a net deterrent to purchase. There is obvious value to the bundling in of Uncharted 3, but we also see value in the boost from 160GB to 250GB of storage. There are already 4,100 PS3 games available for download via the PlayStation Network. As consumers continue to gravitate to digital distribution, and Sony remains intent on making its consoles the content hub for other devices such as the Vita, that extra storage takes on greater importance. So with the jury still out on how well consumers will take to the Wii U’s new controller, Sony’s undercutting the price of Nintendo’s new entry with a fresh PS3, the attractiveness of the more open access to the PlayStation Network compared to Xbox Live, and Sony’s strong steps toward more online free-to-play content, we see Sony as very well positioned for a good holidays. As for the 18GB model, we are keen to see how well this low-priced unit does in price-conscious European and Asian markets. If successful, such a powerful console at that price point could lock in substantial additional market share.