Source: See below.
The official story: See below.
What we heard: The console wars heated up this week when SCEA knocked $100 off the price of the 60GB PS3, cutting into Microsoft's Xbox 360 price advantage. Unfortunately, gamers across the Atlantic won't get a similar price cut on the system. Last night, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe instead announced a new PS3 bundle that would come with two games--Resistance: Fall of Man and MotorStorm--and an extra controller.
When asked why European consumers aren't getting the same treatment, SCEE president David Reeves said that the North American drop wasn't really a drop at all.
"Let's understand what the Americans have done," he told GameSpot UK. "They're going to introduce an 80GB model at $599 with MotorStorm on August 1, and they've got stock in trade of the old model. They're just selling it off, they're not dropping the price. The price from August 1 is going to be $599 because all the 60GB models will have gone. They've got to find a way to get rid of the old stock, and that's what they're doing."
Reeves gave nearly identical statements to several European outlets, setting off a firestorm before the sun rose on the E3 Media & Business Summit in Los Angeles. To help clarify the matter, GameSpot contacted Dave Karraker, senior director of corporate communications at Sony Computer Entertainment America. However, his answer further clouded the waters by apparently contradicting Reeves' statement.
"Those quotes from David Reeves are not accurate," he told GameSpot. "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. We will have ample supplies of both models to meet the needs of our consumers for the foreseeable future."
[UPDATE] Following a flurry of confusion, the matter was apparently settled by none other than Sony Computer Entertainment's president and CEO. Speaking to Norwegian game-news outlet VGTV, Kaz Hirai said in no uncertain terms that the 60GB version is being phased out.
"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 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."
[UPDATE 2] SCEA has since confirmed the production cessation to GameSpot, but Karraker emphasized it would not be sudden. "The 60GB PS3 will be available in North America for $499 until supplies of that unit are depleted," 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."
Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus, unless Hirai's bosses at Sony corporate change their mind.