Sony's PSP Go won't celebrate its one-week birthday until Thursday, but retailers in the UK have already lopped 11 percent off the handheld game system's price tag. The PSP Go debuted at £224.99, but HMV, GAME, Play.com, and Amazon UK have reduced that to £199.99, according to Gameindustry.biz. In US dollars, that's a drop from $359 to $319, bearing in mind the exchange rate doesn't factor relative market value.
Sony also told GI.biz that their first weekend sales of the Go were "in line with expectations," and that the Go sold "as many units as" its older UMD disc-inclusive PSP-3000. But even Sony seems to realize it's priced the Go high. In an earlier GI.biz story, UK-based PSP product manager Claire Backhouse admitted "We were very aware of concerns when we went into it and I actually expected a lot more negative responses than we actually got."
The four retailers mentioned above comprise the bulk of retail game sales in the UK. It makes you wonder about the margins on the Go, and whether part of the system's steep MSRP had to do with establishing higher retail margins--margins guys like Amazon and GAME are opting to live without in trade for higher sales.
Of course selling lots of something without contingencies--retail game software, for instance--sounds counterintuitive. Peripherals like cases and cabling notwithstanding, the Go's digital download profile ineluctably weakens the consumer-retailer relationship. Perhaps retailers want to rid themselves of the Go as quickly as possible. Keep an eye on stock levels going into the holidays. Sony could spin stocking issues as "high demand" for the system, but they could just as well reflect ebbing retailer commitment.
In my review (PCW Score: 70%) I wrote
Should you get [a PSP Go]? Sony has made it hard for even affluent enthusiasts, since the company is asking for $250 up front as well as the cost of repurchasing games already owned in UMD format. At the other end of the spectrum, casual gamers who have never owned a PSP will probably balk at the price tag and opt instead for Nintendo's cheaper, more family-oriented DSi.
Taken as is, the PSP Go is a pretty piece of handheld gaming kit, but--as with the PS3 three years ago--Sony is positioning it incorrectly for the demographic groups it needs to win over most.
Will US retailers follow with a price drop of their own? It stands to reason. Amazon US already sells the Go for five bucks less MSRP. Sony doesn't want you hanging on the sidelines for a price tag tumble, but unless you're a gadget-wonk with teflon-shielded cash reserves, you'll probably want to.
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