In an unexpected twist which would probably make some Nintendo fans happy, Bloomberg is reporting that Sony is coming under pressure from video game publishers to lower the price of their PlayStation 3 console, or else risk seeing more funds shifted over to development for the Wii.
Noted are the already lucrative results seen by Activision, who generated 32 percent of its profits by way of the Wii last year versus 19 percent from the PS3, and Electronic Arts, who is releasing some titles solely for Wii, and who showed off a selection last week. “You can’t ignore the guy who has half the market,” said EA Sports President Peter Moore.
Moore added that Sony “obviously still has a ways to go with their pricing,” and that EA expects for a drop to come soon. The PS3 did contribute 27 percent of the company’s console sales last quarter, thanks to a particularly popular soccer title.
Of course, while developers and consumers alike are calling for a reduction, Sony continues to stand firm on its pricing. “Everybody in the development community would love for the PS3 to be free, so they could just sell razor blades,” said Sony Computer Entertainment America’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Peter Dille.
To hear Dille’s side of the story, the PlayStation 3 is benefiting from titles exclusive to the PlayStation 3, such as Killzone 2. Furthermore, they expect their efforts to be bolstered by the recently-announced deal to provide NBC Universal movies and TV shows via the device.
In addition, Sony has seen an extra boost in Japan, recently pulling ahead of Nintendo with both of their platforms, thanks to Capcom’s Biohazard (Resident Evil) 5 and new colors for the PlayStation Portable device.
Epic Vice-President Mark Rein isn’t so sure that a price reduction would shift the paradigm, however. He notes that the PS3 and Xbox 360 share many titles and costs, with companies who don’t commit enough to Sony’s platform risking a loss of business.
“You make very good money on PlayStation 3 if you develop a good game,” Rein stated. “You can very easily take that game to Xbox 360 or PC.”
Nonetheless, there are those who believe that dropping the price on a console can only be a good thing. “Anytime a console manufacturer reduces the price, software publishers benefit,” said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot.
Game makers now focus development in two directions: one for the top-selling Wii and the other for Xbox 360, PS3 and personal computers.
Titles for Microsoft and Sony are typically more expensive to produce. Sony posts a loss on each console it makes at the current price, according to researcher iSuppli Corp.
Pacific Crest Securities Analyst Evan Wilson notes that “The publishers need the PS3 install base to grow in order for most of these games to be profitable. It’s an easy equation for them, but it’s very different from the one that Sony has to take on.”