The 60GB PlayStation 3 will soon sell for the same price as its late 20GB sibling

The Circuit City ad showing the PS3 selling for $499 (Source: Kotaku)
Retailer information points to a PS3 price drop to $499 coming July 12

With price being many consumers’ sticky issue on the PlayStation 3, Sony appears to be adjusting the price of its new games machine sooner than expected.

A member of the DVD Talk forum acquired a Circuit City flyer for the week of July 15, and posted a number of gamer-specific deals. Of extreme interest is the retailer’s price on the PlayStation 3, listed at $499.99 after a $100 “price break.”

It was originally unclear if the $499 price point was just a specific to Circuit City, but a merchandising manager at a supposedly large retailer confirmed with GameDaily that the price drop is to be retail-wide on July 12, with the first wave of ads to promote the new PS3 price starting July 15.

It is now believed that Sony Computer Entertainment America will be officially announcing the new $499 price of the PlayStation 3 at its E3 press conference next week, scheduled for the morning of July 11.

The $499 price point was previously occupied by the 20GB version of the PlayStation 3. Sony launched its console in November 2006 with two variants – one at $499 and the other a $599 – with the more expensive version featuring a larger, 60GB hard drive and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Citing reasons related to consumer demand, Sony in April discontinued the $499 20GB PlayStation 3 leaving only the more expensive $599 60GB model on the market. Since that move, the issue of price has cropped up in various interviews with Sony executives.

Sony president Ryoji Chubachi said to the Financial Times, “We are re-examining our [PS3] budgeting process in terms of pricing and volume. Sales assumptions change and the market is competitive. We are in the midst of revisiting our strategy for the PS3.”

More recently, Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer said in June regarding the PS3’s price, “That is what we are studying at the moment. That’s what we are trying to refine.”

Puzzlingly, amidst all the evidence of a pending price cut, Chubachi told Reutersearlier today, “At present we have no plans [to cut the PS3 price].”

Although the upcoming new price of 60GB PlayStation 3 is the same as the discontinued 20GB version, which represents little actual savings for gamers looking for an even cheaper way onto Sony’s new game platform, those interested in the console’s high-definition movie playback capability will find some extra value.

All PlayStation 3 (and various other Blu-ray player) purchases made from July 1 to September 30 are entitled to five free Blu-ray Disc movies as part of a special promotion from the Blu-ray Disc Association.

The upcoming $499 price will also put the PlayStation 3 on par with Sony’s cheapest standalone Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-S300.

When the PlayStation 3 first launched last year, it was an able movie player, but it lacked several important features of standalone machines – for example, DVD upscaling. Thanks to regular firmware updates from Sony, however, the PlayStation 3 is now able to upscale DVD movies up to a 1080p resolution – putting it on easily on par with the best Blu-ray Disc players on the market.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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