SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Today, the E3 Media & Business Summit wound down in Santa Monica, with at least one exhibitor having already packed up and left the show floor at Barker Hangar. However, this morning saw the biggest controversy of the show heat up, with a maelstrom of confusion surrounding the $499 price drop of the 60GB PS3, which was just announced Monday.
Last night, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe CEO David Reeves told GameSpot that the discounting was merely a markdown of a model which had been discontinued. Just hours later, his statements appeared to be contradicted by a senior Sony Computer Entertainment America spokesperson, who said that quotes from Reeves in the press were "not accurate."
"As announced this week, SCEA's product offering in North America consists of an 80GB PS3 available in August at $599 and a 60GB PS3 available now for $499," SCEA senior director of corporate communications Dave Karraker told GameSpot. "We have will have ample supplies of both models to meet the needs of our consumers for the foreseeable future."
At almost the same time, a television interview with the global head of Sony Computer Entertainment settled the matter once and for all. Speaking to Norwegian game-news outlet VGTV, SCEI president and group CEO Kaz Hirai said in no uncertain terms that the 60GB PS3's days are numbered.
"From a hardware perspective, the $499 price adjustment we did for the 60GB version for the American market, we're no longer in production for that product," he said in an unedited on-camera interview. "Once that product is gone from the retailer shelves, then we're back to a $599 SKU only, so it's not like we have a two-price strategy in the US market. We found out very early on how consumers react to having just one SKU as opposed to two."
SCEA has subsequently confirmed the phase out, but emphasized that it would be gradual. "The 60GB PS3 will be available in North America for $499 until supplies of that unit are depleted," Karraker told GameSpot in a follow-up interview. "We have ample inventory to meet the immediate needs of consumers in this territory for several months to come."
Karraker also responded to criticism that loudly promoting the new $499 price point while quietly discontinuing its production amounted to a bait and switch. "This is absolutely not a bait and switch," he said. "We are offering a full featured PS3 for $100 lower than the original price and will do so for months to come, allowing consumers the opportunity to acquire this model at this adjusted price."