At a special E3 event this evening, Sony Europe boss David Reeves announced a new PS3 bundle for Europe. Comprised of a console, two games and a second Sixaxis controller, it will cost GBP 425 / EUR 599 - the same price as the standalone machine previously retailed for.
Following the announcement, Eurogamer sat down with Reeves to find out more about the decision not to do what Sony America did and introduce a straight price cut - plus the new PSP, future plans and who's going to win the next-gen console battle.
Eurogamer: Now you've made the announcement about the PS3 bundle for Europe, what kind of reaction are you expecting?
David Reeves: I think people will say to us, 'This is really good for the summer, what are you going to do in October?'. We think that we've offered a lot of value to keep the momentum going until the big titles come out. Then we'll look at doing something else, but for the moment I think it's the right move for us.
Eurogamer: How concerned are you about possible criticisms that you should have given European consumers what Sony America gave the US; the option to pay a lower price?
David Reeves: Well, they're not really are they, because what the US are offering from the 1st of August is a USD 599 version with one game. All they're doing is taking their stock 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.
Eurogamer: So once it's sold out, that will be the end of the USD 499, 60GB model then?
David Reeves: In America, yes.
Eurogamer: Why not offer the 80GB model in Europe?
David Reeves: The difference between 60GB and 80GB is not really necessary. The difference in cost between a 60 and 80 is just Euro sense; it's nothing, because the cost of memory is so small.
Probably we could have gone for 80GB, but does it really make any difference? 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.
Eurogamer: But if as you say there's no difference between the 60GB and 80GB, is Sony America making the right decision in offering it?
David Reeves: The difference is that the 60GB we have now has about 88 per cent backwards compatibility. The 60GB they had had 100 per cent backwards compatibility. They felt that by going down from 100 to 88, for example, that they'd have to add something in - and that's what they did.
That was their decision. 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.
Eurogamer: But you're still asking people to commit GBP 425 to a games console. Isn't there a problem with the perception that that's an awful lot of money to shell out?
David Reeves: It is, but surprisingly, people are paying that amount of money for it. Now they'll get two games and an extra controller as well. It's not just a games machine as you know - you can play Blu-ray movies, you can download games from the network, you can browse the Internet and you can play music on it.
Eurogamer: What about the PSP? You've made it smaller and lighter, but isn't the real problem that there aren't the games for it?
David Reeves: Yes. It's setting itself up. It needed to be lighter and slimmer to make it portable. To solve the problem - if there is a problem with PSP - we need to have better and more original games.
Not only third parties but internally. Phil's studios are working not only on PSP games, we're also thinking of moving some of the stuff we have on the Network to PSP - things like Calling All Cars. We may remake it for PSP.
Eurogamer: Why not add some of the other things gamers have been asking for, like a built-in hard drive?
David Reeves: We looked at them and they were too expensive. It might be we can look at a hard drive later, because hard drive prices now are relatively inexpensive. But by putting a hard drive in now you add weight as well. I think it's definitely possible later, yes.
Eurogamer: What did you think of Sony's E3 press conference this year?
David Reeves: I wasn't here; I arrived this afternoon and I'm leaving tomorrow. I've heard reports that it was a bit humbler, with more humility than last year, which I think was needed. And that it was quite slick, that it was focusing on games... So it seems to have been fairly well received. But it's not for me to judge, is it?