The official story: "Circuit City hasn't announced any sales price on the PS3, so we have no comment."--A Sony representative.
What we heard: Thrifty DVD and game collectors might not know the name "speedy1961," but there's a good chance they've benefited from his work. This poster has been giving forum-goers at DVD Talk and Cheap Ass Gamer a reliable heads up on the Sunday newspaper ads from such retailers as Best Buy, Circuit City, and Target for more than a year now.
In his latest post on each forum, speedy1961 runs down the gaming and movie deals from the Circuit City circular for the week starting July 15. While he covers prices for everything from the latest Kelly Clarkson album to a DVD of the Will Smith film Hitch ($9.99 and $4.99, respectively), speedy1961 also mentions that Circuit City is advertising a $100 price break on the 60GB PlayStation 3, bringing the price of the system down to $499.
A $499 20GB version of the PS3 with a smaller hard drive and no wireless Internet capability was released alongside the current $599 60GB model when the system launched last year, but Sony discontinued it earlier this year. According to the electronics giant, demand for that version of the system just didn't justify keeping the configuration around.
While the PS3 is less than a year old, analysts and third-party publishers alike (not to mention consumers) have been asking for a price cut on the system for some time. While Sony's projected 10-year lifespan for the PS3 will likely prevent the company from cutting the price of the system too deeply too quickly, a $100 cut right now would put the system more closely in line with the Xbox 360. While Microsoft's box is still available in a barebones $299 and a 20GB HDD-equipped $399 model, its recently released 120GB Elite edition retails for $479.
The timing of this news also looks right. The Electronic Entertainment Expo is set to take place next week, and a price cut is exactly the sort of big news console makers have announced at the show in the past. The July 15 Circuit City ad in the papers would be the first Sunday after E3, making it the first chance the retailer would have to advertise a price cut.
Bogus or not bogus? Given speedy1961's previous track record, it's almost certainly not bogus that Circuit City will soon advertise a cheaper PS3. However, with no other retailer listings to confirm the drop and Sony playing coy, there remains a chance this might be a Circuit City sale and not an overall price cut.