Friday, July 13, 2007

Console Post of the Week, In Which Sony Raises the Jackass Bar to Unprecedented Heights

Funny thing about me--about us. We don't like being lied to. I object to that.

Another funny thing--hubris and arrogance never end well. For an individual, yes--it can get you elected President--but for corporations, not so much. When a corporation is all wrapped up in hubris and arrogance, it almost never ends well.

It's not going to end well this time.

Sony, in what seemingly was the first rational moment they've had in months, announced on Monday that they were cutting the price of the 60GB PS3 model (in the U.S.) from $599 to $499. They also announced a new 80GB model that would be introduced at $599. In an interview with N'Gai Croal of Newsweek, Jack Tretton (CEO of SCEA) had this to say about supply of the two units:
In terms of supply, I think we'll have aggressive supplies of both. We made a much more calculated bet as to what consumer demand would be when we initially came out with the Playstation 3, between the 20 gig and the 60 gig, because we had gotten a lot of retailer feedback. In this instance, we're going to kind of going to go in with a pretty robust supply of both and let the consumer decide, and then we'll adapt supplies accordingly. So I would say it's probably from a supply standpoint equal, initially, and then we'll adjust based on consumer demand, and we'll adjust production beyond that.

Four days
later, Tretton's statement is revealed as a bald-faced lie.

From Gamasutra:
A spokesman from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has confirmed to Gamasutra that the 60GB hard drive version of the PlayStation 3 will be phased out in the U.S., with no plans to replenish stock once current supplies run out.

The surprising news first came to light in an
online interview with SCEE president David Reeves, in which he suggested that the 60GB version would cease to be available by as early as this month. This despite a $100 price cut for the console only having been announced on Monday and Sony proclaiming greatly increased sales as a result at its media briefing on Wednesday.

Gamasutra has confirmed the story with a SCEE spokesman, who indicated that “The US are currently transitioning from the 60GB to the 80GB mode of the PlayStation 3. When stock of the 60GB model runs out it will no longer be available in the U.S.”


So this isn't a price-cut. It's a clearance sale.

It's hard to dance around this, so I'll be blunt: these guys are pricks. They've consistently acted like this for almost two years. It's not an accident, it's not by chance, it's not one rogue executive. This is just the latest in an incredible series of gaffes.

It's beyond comprehension, really. Sony basically tooled the entire press corps covering E3 with a "story" that was a complete misrepresentation. Do they think that's going to help them in the future?

Oh, and here comes the non-denial denial. From Next-Gen:
SCEA has denied 'inaccurate' reports that its $100 price cut on the 60Gig PS3 is simply a move to clear stock before offering solely the higher priced 80Gig version.

A spokesperson for Sony in the US told Next-Gen, “"As announced this week, SCEA's product offering in North America consists of a 80GB PS3 available in August at $599 and a 60GB PS3 available now for $499. We have will have ample supplies of both models to meet the needs of our consumers for the foreseeable future."

Exactly. You have stock in both models for the "foreseeable future" because even if the price cut permanently doubled sales for the 60GB model, it would take 2-3 months to run through the bloated inventories in the U.S.

Notice, though, that they're not specifically denying anything. If they planned to keep selling the 60GB in the U.S. after existing stock ran out, that's what they would have said. This is a good rule of thumb: when a company denies something without denying anything, that's not a denial.

So what we're really getting in the U.S. is a 20GB larger hard drive, but removal of hardware backward compatibility. At the same $599 price point.

It boggles the mind, really. I don't think these guys collectively could run a Subway franchise competently. I don't mean Subway, the corporation--I mean a store.

I'll have Microsoft and Nintendo news on Monday.

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