The PlayStation 2 will be priced at £169.99 in the UK as of September 1st, giving Sony an extra boost in a console war it’s already winning by a significant margin – and driving the PAL install base of the PS2 from its current level of 8.25 million to 14 million units by the end of the year, if SCEE’s figures are to be believed.
The price cut leaves the ball firmly in Microsoft’s court once more, with the Xbox now the most expensive console again – albeit by a margin of £30 rather than the £100 gap when the system launched in mid-March. PS2 is already outselling the Xbox by a large margin, and Microsoft is likely to cut the price of its system to compete – perhaps by as much as £50, bringing the console to £149.99, exactly half of its launch price, within eight months on sale.
A drop in the Xbox price in Japan is already rumoured, with sources there suggesting that Microsoft are contemplating price-matching the GameCube in that territory – and dropping the price of its software as well. Although the company has recently embarked on a series of price cutting strategies at manufacturing level on Xbox, such a move would only deepen the financial wounds being inflicted on the company by the console, which is already being sold at a very significant loss.
Nintendo’s GameCube is less likely to be affected by the PS2 move – it remains the cheapest of the consoles at £129.99, and its strong roster of first and second party titles leading into Christmas will provide regular sales boosts for the system. A drop, perhaps to £99.99, cannot be ruled out however, as this would bring the European price in line with the Japanese price point for the hardware.
The new PS2 price, which is effective from midnight this Saturday, translates to approximately 259 Euros in the rest of the EU.