Call it the "SuperSlim," the "Ultrasvelte," or the "LipoStation 3" -- just as long as "it stays positive," says Sony Computer Entertainment America VP of marketing, handhelds and home consoles John Koller. The new, even thinner version of the PlayStation 3 doesn't have a new name to distinguish itself from the myriad other PS3 models. Like Apple's third iPad iteration, the third iteration of the PlayStation 3 is simply, "The PlayStation 3." And like the second PS3 console, Koller says the new model is Sony's new standard, with previous models going the way of the Puerto Rican shrew (poor little guy is totally extinct).
The new PS3 comes in two models for North America, 250GB and 500GB, which Koller says is a result of North American consumers being more "digitally inclined" than other territories. "We have to provide the hard drive size and the opportunity for them to be able to, out of the box, utilize that content," he argues. But this philosophy may be flawed -- one of Sony's main competitors, Nintendo, is applying the same logic to its Wii U, albeit with starkly different results. Nintendo argues that it doesn't want to pass the rapidly declining cost of memory on to the consumer, so you'll be able to attach any form of external memory to its console. That functionality also exists in the PS3 -- Flash memory via USB or a full-on internal HDD replacement -- but Koller says consumers are more inclined to purchase additional consoles rather than replacing internal storage. "When you look at some of the earlier chassis, and the really early adopters -- the 20GB, and the 60GB -- that consumer had a choice. They could either go out and buy another hard drive -- and it's an easy install, so we make it easy for the consumer if they want to take a hard drive off the shelf and plug it in, they can do that. They had a choice of doing that, or purchasing another PlayStation 3. And what's been happening is we're seeing a lot of adoption of second consoles in-house," Koller says.
That philosophy is why Europe's the only territory getting a 12GB Flash-based PlayStation 3. Sure, consumers can expand the system's memory with Flash -- the new model allows for internal memory expansion as well, except for the 12GB version -- but that doesn't line up with SCEA's goals in its territory. "The smaller Flash drive isn't coming to North America, and a lot of that reason is the digital consumer," Koller says. "We really want to make sure, out of the box, that there is an option for them to be able to download that content. That is really critical for us, very very important."
250GB of memory is cheap, as is 500GB. Like, under $100 cheap (Sony itself prices the standalone 250GB HDD at around $116). The new PS3 models cost $270 and $300, respectively. The older models -- the $250 160GB model, and the $300 320GB model -- will not get price drops. So ... what gives? "There's no price drop formally, but the thing that's been happening in the market over the last year or so is that there's been so many retail price promotions, and so many different gift card offers and all those things, being done by all of us (Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony), that we've heard from our consumer, 'Enough with all these weird price moves. What we really want is content and games and value,'" Koller says. Though we can't imagine many (any?) consumers complaining about price drops on things they want to buy, Koller stands by his assertion. He also admits that his answer is, "kind of a long way of saying 'no, no formal price drop,'" and that there are only so many units of the older models left on store shelves.
The first of the two new PlayStation 3 models, the 250GB $270 bundle that comes with a copy of Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and $30 in Dust 514 credit, launches next Tuesday, September 25.