Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Sony game changer, or Game Over?
Sony unveiled its leaner, meaner and — most importantly – cheaper PlayStation 3 in Tokyo Wednesday after a gamescon debut in Europe, but it offered little beyond a quick glimpse of what it hopes will stop the money-bleeding of arguably one of the most troubled products in its history.
After rising to industry dominance with its PlayStation and PS2 consoles, Sony’s gaming unit grew to account for 60 percent of the conglomerate’s profit, and its chief, Ken Kutaragi, was seen as a possible future CEO.
But the next-generation PS3, initially with a “cell” chip and a price mid-decade of just under $600, has been a tale of woe, contrasting sharply with the wild success of Nintendo’s Wii console, with Kutaragi leaving Sony two years ago as chip and PS3-related losses mounted.
In the wake of its early poor performance, Sony fiddled with the PS3, cutting its price and modifying the range of bells and whistles that came with the lowest and highest versions of the console.
But some software makers recently fired warning shots, saying they may not make PS3 games unless Sony cut the price of the console.
The roughly $100 reduction still puts the PS3 above the Wii and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, but was greeted with enthusiasm by game-makers like Konami, and some analysts foresee up to a 20 percent rise in sales. Still, the company gave no forecasts and took no questions at the event to unveil the new console.
A Forbes article seemed to capture some of the remaining skeptism, with a title suggesting it may indeed be Game Over time: “PlayStation 3: Too Little, Too Late.”
Photo credit: REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao