At a press event at the GamesCom convention in Germany today, Sony announced that the long-rumored slimmer PS3 will be released September 1 for $299, a $100 price drop from its current PlayStation 3. The console will have a 120 GB hard drive, be 33% smaller and 36% lighter, consuming 34% less power.
Sony needs to increase sales to compete. In the last 3 months, according to sales numbers from the NPD Group, Sony PS3 sold about 200,000 less units than Microsoft's Xbox 360 and almost 500,000 less units than the Wii. Sales of both the PS2 and PSP have helped mitigate the differences, but it is hard to deny that Sony is losing this generation's console war.
Also at the event, Sony showed the new version of the PlayStation's OS and the PlayStation Network. Firmware 3.0 will have animated themes and some interfaces changes. The PSP will get Digital Reader software, including digital comics through a partnership with Marvel. More important to the future of the PSP was the announcement of Minis, smaller downloadable games for the portable that launches October 1--including perennial favorite Tetris. Sony showed a teaser video for the Motion Controllers and more info will be coming at the Tokyo Game Show, September 24.
How will Nintendo and Microsoft respond to this news? In the short term, many expect Nintendo to drop the price of the Wii from $249 to $199, as it hasn't had a price cut since it launched almost three years ago. Microsoft seems to be discontinuing the current Xbox 360 Pro, and lowering the 360 Elite version to the Pro's former price of $299--basically giving gamers more hard drive space for their buck. And if past holidays are any indication, expect a new Xbox SKU bundled with some games.
In the long term though, the next stage of this console war is brewing. Microsoft will launch Project Natal, and most likely a slimmer Xbox 360, later in 2010. And the rumored Wii HD will launch in 2011. Sony will release their motion control solution in 2010.
Will Sony's new PS3 and Motion Controllers be enough for it to surge out of third place? Stay tuned.