TOKYO: Sony is giving away freebies to woo buyers to the new PlayStation 3 video game machine whose hefty price appears to be scaring away shoppers.
The latest giveaway from the Japanese electronics and entertainment company is being promised for the Australia launch for the PlayStation 3 set on 23 March, a Blu-ray Disc version of the Sony Pictures James Bond movie Casino Royale, for the first 20,000 Australian PS3 buyers.
The PlayStation 3 costs a hefty $790 (Rs34,974 ) for the 60 gigabyte hard drive version. The console, the successor to industry leader PlayStation 2 that went on sale in November last year in the US and Japan, costs $600 in the US.
Tokyo-based Sony Corp. has long had a proprietary reputation, and the flurry of free entertainment content doled out with the PlayStation 3 seems a bit out of character, perhaps designed to counter the perception of an overpriced product.
“They have to sweeten the deal a little bit,” said Hiroshi Kamide, director of research and game expert at KBC Securities Japan in Tokyo. “The problem with the product so far is that no one has fully understood why it’s so expensive,” he added.
Nintendo Co.’s surprise hit Wii is being snatched up and has been out of stock at some stores, and at $250 is widely welcomed by families as a bargain.
Free downloads of the GranTurismo PlayStation 3 software game, out since December for American and Japanese PS3 owners, will be available for Australia launch, Sony said lately.
On 22 Friday, Sony Computer Entertainment said shorter free trial downloads of a golfing game for the Japanese market will also be available next month.
Although Sony officials say PlayStation 3 sales are going on schedule, the machine is still a money-loser.
Sony blamed the losses in its video game operations forits faltering profits in the October-December quarter, when Sony profits slipped 5% to $1.3 billion, largely because of PS3 startup costs.
Sony said it shipped 1.84 million PS3 machines worldwide till 31 December and is sticking to its earlier target of shipping 6 million PS3 consoles by 31 March. Kamide, the gaming industry expert, said the PS3 needs a fuller lineup of new, attractive games to make the purchase seem worth the price.
“It’s the least they can do,” he said of the freebies. “If you’re paying a head above everybody else for a similar product, a game machine, you want to be able to categorically say the reason why it’s so expensive,” he added.