Gaming expert Paul Jackson, an analyst at Forrester Research, suggested that Sony will sell the PlayStation 3 for no more than $500 in an effort to remain competitive with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's forthcoming Revolution gaming console, although the price could be as high as $800 at launch, and drop thereafter.
How much would you be willing to shell out for the PlayStation 3, with its eye-popping graphics, superior sound quality, and home-entertainment features? The price tag for Sony's next-generation gaming console could be pretty steep when it is released, but gamers won't know for certain until the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), held next month in Los Angeles, where Sony is expected to reveal the details.
Earlier this month, an executive with Sony Computer Entertainment Europe told a French radio station that the PlayStation 3 would list at 499 to 599 euros, which translates to some $600 to $750. That's considerably more than Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, which sells in the $300 to $400 range.
In the wake of this news, Sony issued a statement to clarify the issue, saying that the figures given were for a Blu-Ray video player and were in U.S. dollars, not euros.
Lost in Translation
"It looks as though there was a mistranslation, and that the prices listed were for a Blu-Ray player, which means that we still don't know what the PlayStation 3 will cost," said gaming expert Paul Jackson, an analyst at Forrester Research.
He suggested that Sony will sell the PlayStation 3 for no more than $500 in an effort to remain competitive with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's forthcoming Revolution gaming console, although the price could be as high as $800 at launch, and drop thereafter.
While that's a lot of money, Sony contends that its latest console will do a lot more than play games. Sony plans to introduce a MySpace-like online-gaming service when the console goes on sale in November. Moreover, the device is being touted as an all-in-one home-entertainment hub that is powered by the supercomputer-grade Cell processor.
The Cell chip can reach a processing-performance level of 16 teraflops, or 16 trillion calculations per second. In contrast, a general-purpose PC typically has a rating of only a few billion operations per second.
The Cell is not a general-purpose CPU because it is optimized for certain applications, like graphics processing. But if the teraflop rating were the only measure of system performance, the Cell chip would place the PlayStation 3 in the top 100 fastest supercomputers on the planet.
IBM's BlueGene/L, for example, currently ranks at the top of the supercomputer chart on Top500.org with a peak performance of 183 teraflops.
Cool New Games Are Key
"Sony says the PlayStation 3 is much more powerful than the PlayStation 2, and that it will introduce some attractive, high-definition game titles, but it probably won't be that much more compelling than the fully loaded Xbox 360," said Jackson.
One issue Sony has to deal with is that it can take a year or more after a console's launch before games that can truly take advantage of its capabilities are introduced. "And at this point, Microsoft has a head start and can start delivering better games by the time PS3 is launched," the analyst noted.
The latest pricing confusion adds to Sony's perceived troubles regarding the PlayStation 3, which was to be introduced this spring but instead will debut in November.
"They have had some problems getting innovative technology to work together, and getting the Blu-Ray specifications approved, but they can't price the PlayStation 3 $200 more than the Xbox 360 if they want to attract buyers," Jackson said.
Still, he said, in the long run, the networking capabilities, high-definition video, and processing power of the PlayStation 3 could make a difference among gaming fans.