The 80GB PS3 to be the only option once the 60GB consoles are all sold out

Although the $100 price drop on the 60GB PlayStation 3 appears from most angles to be a tactic from Sony Computer Entertainment America to help jumpstart sales of its new console, comments from the company’s European arm seem to paint the price reduction as a method of clearing out old stock.

In an interview with GamesIndustry, SCEE president David Reeves said in response to a question asking why Europe isn’t getting a similar price drop as North America, “Well, they're not really are they, because what the U.S. are offering from the 1st of August is a USD 599 version with one game. All they're doing is taking their stock in trade that they've got at the moment of the 60GB model, marking the price down and it will all be gone by the end of July.”

The interviewer then clarified Reeves' answer by asking, “So once the 60GB is gone, that will be the end of the 60GB then?” The SCEE president replied, “In America, yes.”

Sony's Kaz Hirai confirmed the move in this video interview with VG TV (his response in English can be heard around the 1:45 mark).

The comments from Reeves and Hirari indicate that the recent price drop is just an attempt to clear out remaining 60GB inventory to make way for the 80GB model. This would also mean that once the $499 60GB models are sold out, the actual price of entry into PlayStation 3 ownership will rise back up to $599.

At the time of launch, gamers could purchase a PlayStation 3 for $499 rather than $599 if they chose to go with the 20GB model which also was without Wi-Fi and a memory card reader. Starting in 2007, shipments of the more economical 20GB appeared to be scarcer, while the 60GB was more readily found in stores.

Following investigations into the apparent extinction of the $499 option, Sony officially confirmed the 20GB PlayStation 3 as a discontinued product – effectively raising the price of the PlayStation 3 overall to the $599 tag of the 60GB model. The situation with the 60GB and 80GB consoles could lead to a repetition of history that could closely resemble that of the 20GB PlayStation 3.

As for the situation for gamers across the pond, Reeves also gave an explanation as to why Europe isn’t getting a PS3 with a larger hard drive yet: The difference between 60GB and 80GB is not really necessary. “Probably we could have gone for 80GB, but does it really make any difference?” he said. “We just know that we get a better supply on the 60GB than we will on the 80GB. So we chose to continue with the 60GB until we find that we can get something better, maybe lower cost. It just didn't seem necessary to us.”

Following the above reasoning, Reeve was asked why SCEA would choose the slightly larger hard drive if it isn’t necessary. “The difference is that the 60GB we have now has about 88 per cent backwards compatibility,” Reeve replied, referencing the difference in backwards compatibility hardware. “The 60GB they had had 100 per cent backwards compatibility. They felt that by going down for 100 to 88, for example, that they'd have to add something in – and that's what they did.”

Although European gamers will not yet be getting any price break or larger hard drive, a new value-added bundle has been revealed in the form of a starter pack that adds an extra controller and two games to the purchase of a new console.

Aside from the new bundle, Sony may not be making any moves until the end of the year. “We just felt that we didn't want to complicate things; we wanted to have one model, and we've had one model, we've done very well with it, now we'll add value and we'll think about what we'll do closer to Christmas,” Reeves said.

Update 07/13/07:
Sony officials are trying to clarify SCEE president David Reeve’s comments regarding the eventual end of the 60GB PS3. Posted on the official PlayStation blog, SCEA communications officer Dave Karraker wrote, “As we announced this week, SCEA’s product offering in North America consists of a 80GB PS3 available in August and a 60GB PS3 available now for $499. We will have ample supplies of both models to meet the needs of consumers for the foreseeable future.”

Karraker revealed to Joystiq that “the foreseeable future,” equates to several months: “The 60GB PS3 will be available in North America for $499 until supplies of that unit are depleted. We have ample inventory to meet the immediate needs of consumers in this territory for several months to come. We won't be making any further announcements regarding our hardware offerings in the North America at this time.”

The same news comes from even higher up the corporate chain, as SCEI president Kaz Hirai said in a recent VG TV interview, “Just from a hardware perspective, the $499 price adjustment that we did for the 60GB version for the American market, we’re no longer in production for that product. So once that product is gone from the retailers’ shelves, then we’re back to the $599 SKU only, so it’s not like we have a two price strategy here in the U.S. market, which we found very early on consumers that react most to just having one SKU as opposed to two.”

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