Note: [All opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of GamerXChange]
As you may have heard, Sony announced new “super slim” PS3 models at their TGS conference last night/today (depending on your region). Starting next week, you will be able to pick up the new-ish console at your favorite gaming retail store. There will be 500 GB models widely available worldwide and 250 GB models in Japan and North America. However, Europe will have an exclusive 12 GB flash memory model. Is this exclusive model a missed opportunity for SCE in other regions?
If you’re reading this, there is a pretty good chance you’re a core or hardcore gamer – someone who plays video games a little more than occasionally. Would a 12 GB PS3 model appeal to you? Unlikely. In fact, as I have heard from a few already, you may scoff at the idea that such a model even exists. “A 12 GB PS3? You can play, what, three games on it?!” Okay, yes, the internal memory is small for a PS3 if you are someone who games a lot. On the other hand, what if, and I’m just throwing this in the air, you’re not?
For a while now, PlayStation has had the console whose price has been almost consistently the highest. Competitors Nintendo and Microsoft both have budget friendly versions of their system on the market – both of which have sold considerably well. In addition, Nintendo’s upcoming next-gen system, the Wii U will be priced at a competitive $299 for the basic model – the same price for a 500 GB super slim PS3, a system going into its seventh year on the market. Analysts and critics have agreed, it’s time for Sony to either drop the price or introduce a budget friendly version of the system. This, they did; But only in Europe.
The 12 GB PS3 will run at a SRP of €229, however prices will vary from country to country, store to store. Could the system have been introduced outside of Europe, let’s say in North America, for $199? This attractive price could reach a new market: the frugal consumer. As someone who worked in games retail in relatively recent times, it was not uncommon for me to see customers enter the shop and look at prices first. “Which console is the cheapest?” They weren’t concerned about what system was the best, they were the parents, or grandparents who were just getting a gift for a child, or the family man who wanted to get back into gaming but didn’t want to spend much because of financial responsibilities. In those cases, the customer almost always left with a Xbox 360 or Wii. Many lamented they wanted a PlayStation 3 but just were not willing to pony up for the price. Could limiting the 12 GB PS3 to just one region be cutting off that chunk of possible system adopters?
But what can you even do with a 12 GB system? It’s no secret that most PS3 games have mandatory installs that can take up a few GBs of space. Still, the PlayStation 3 is not only a gaming machine but a media hub where people can stream videos, play Blu-rays (also in 3D), store images, and more. There are many “non-gamers” who have purchased PS3s just for those media capabilities and not for gaming. Having spoken to a few of these individuals, many have told me that they would have loved if there was a cheaper alternative. Some purchased the system, use it regularly, yet play very few to no games, leaving a lot of memory on their HDD available. A 12 GB model would have appeal to those consumers.
The 12 GB system could also act as an introductory system to new gamers or those just getting back into gaming. Yes, it is a little late in this generation of systems, still there are people interested in buying the system who have just not gotten around to it or who are still conscious of the price. A competitively priced 12 GB system could be a great introductory system and gateway for new consumers and a benefit for Sony. A low price would attract the customer get the system, and they may find that there are more games they want to play but whoops! no more space left. Well, guess what? Sony also has an optional 250 GB HDD that can be used for extra storage for the 12 GB system. Just like the Xbox 360, Sony could drive up profits with add-ons. Along with the 250 GB HDD that is sold separately, PlayStation’s premium service, PS+ could find a foothold with adopters of this system noting that an extra 1 GB of storage for game saves can be accessed through a cloud.
Could Sony also use the 12 GB model as a way to drive the adoption of Vitas? Imagine that a few limited edition bundles were made that included a 12 GB PS3, a Wi-Fi only PlayStation Vita, and a game that uses cross-buy such as Sound Shapes, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, or Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault (QForce). Price the bundle at $399 and you would have an instant holiday hit on your hands. Some may claim that this would be too much of a loss for Sony, which may be true if it was an ongoing practice. However, if the bundles were limited editions, sold possibly only around the holidays, it could see returns in the long run with more people purchasing PS3 and Vita games and accessories.
Personally, I believe that if Sony introduced the 12 GB system worldwide and marketed it right, it could be to SCE’s benefit. Will the system eventually make its way to North American or Japanese soil? Time will tell, but for now it is exclusive to Europe which I feel is a bit of a missed opportunity. What about you? Weigh in on this topic and sound off in the comments below. Do you think Sony is missing an opportunity to increase sales, especially near the upcoming holiday season by only releasing the 12 GB system in Europe? Discus!