PlayStation 3 Price Drop Finally in the Offing?

Remember that $100 PlayStation 3 price drop you've been hearing about for a year or more? The one that keeps not happening? Well it's about to, according to Mike Hickey with investment firm Janco Partners, with Sony set to announce something "in the next couple days."

"Recent channel checks indicate increased speculation for a PS3 price cut announcement from Sony," said Hickey, adding that he believes the cut needs to be $100 to catalyze PS3 sales at retail and that the market's expecting a cut "in April or by June at the latest."

Assuming Hickey's right, would anyone be surprised? Sony knows the PS3's priced out of the market, and has been for awhile. The company's long since realized brand loyalty's worthless beyond a certain sticker threshold — especially in a stagnating economy. And the heady days of king-making exclusives via franchises like Grand Theft Auto are over as spiraling production costs drive publishers to agnostically view remunerative potential. For majors like Fallout 3 and Final Fantasy XIII and Resident Evil 5, there's no such thing as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, just a monolithic hypothetical purchase base, like selling the same DVDs to customers with Samsung or Panasonic players. Exceptions made for DLC exclusives — and props to Microsoft for getting out ahead of that one — but the underlying publisher bean counting that's led to a preponderantly "multi-platform generation" is incontestable.

Hickey mentions "talk" of a PS3 without Blu-ray. While that's intriguing, given the number of instantly incompatible Blu-ray game titles, I'd call it noise. I can't see how splintering the market by spawning a brand new one this late in the game is going to make the PS3 any more salable. Maybe if Sony dropped the price to $200 and offered an external Blu-ray upgrade option for $100, but you wouldn't catch me betting on that approach by tenths.

In any event, the writing's on the wall, and was well before Janco weighed in. The PS3's getting a price cut, and it'll be here before 2009's midpoint.

Question is, if you had $300 to burn and intent to buy a game system, would a $100 cut tip your hand in Sony's direction?

Matt Peckham remembers when the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis cost $130 a piece with a bundled game. You can follow him at twitter.com/game_on.

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