Sony to expand PS2 business, offers no PS3 price cut

Sony promised a new PlayStation 3 controller and expansion of its PlayStation 2 business, but not an anticipated price cut.

Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI) opened Japan's biggest computer gaming event on Thursday with a keynote speech that promised a new PlayStation 3 controller and expansion of its PlayStation 2 business, but not an anticipated price cut.

Kaz Hirai, the recently appointed president and CEO of the Sony gaming unit, said SCEI plans to put more effort into expanding its PlayStation 2 business. At the same time it will continue to push the PlayStation 3.

The plan is unusual because gaming companies typically de-emphasize old consoles when newer versions become available, but Sony's in an unusual situation. Instead of snapping up the PlayStation 3, many consumers have shunned the console because of the high price.

The console costs YEN 59,980 (AUD$602) in Japan for the version with a 60G-byte hard-disk drive, versus YEN 16,000 for the PlayStation 2. The competing Xbox 360 costs YEN 38,800 for the full version and the Nintendo Wii costs YEN 25,000.

At those prices it's little surprise that in Japan, Sony's home market, the PlayStation 2 continues to outsell the PlayStation 3. In the week of Sept. 3 to 9th, the PlayStation 2 sold 13,360 units in Japan against the PlayStation 3's 13,248 units, according to data from Media Create Co.

As part of Sony's new plan, it will promote the PlayStation 2 in developing markets while also continuing to publish new games.

Many had been anticipating that Sony would use the Tokyo Game Show keynote to announce a lower price for the PlayStation 3. It was at the same event last year that Ken Kutaragi, then president of Sony's computer gaming unit, announced a cut in the price of the PlayStation 3 after criticism from both the media and potential users that the console is too expensive.

This year, that didn't happen. Instead a new controller, the DualShock 3, was announced. The controller answers user's calls for a device with a "rumble" feature, which makes the controller shake at certain points in games. The DualShock 3 will hit Japan in November and be available in Europe and North America in early 2008.

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Martyn Williams

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