Sony dropping PS2 price to $99.99

Cash-strapped console maker heeds publishers' calls, will lower nine-year-old console's price to double digits beginning April 1; cut mirrored in mainland Europe, but UK misses out.

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In February, Activision executives publicly expressed their doubts about the PlayStation 2. Speaking with analysts following yet another record earnings report, the company said that their continued support of the nine-year-old console would be contingent on Sony cutting its price.

It's all about the Benjamin (singular).
It's all about the Benjamin (singular).

Just over one month later, Activision and potential PS2 owners looking for frugal recession-era entertainment saw their wishes granted. Beginning on April 1, Sony is cutting the price of the PS2 in the US and Canada to $99/C$99. That's a $30 discount from the previous price point of the console, which was set at $129.99 back in 2006, two years after a dramatically thinner "Slimline" form factor was introduced.

The price cut is being mirrored in mainlaind Europe too, with the recommended retail price for the region dropping to €99 throughout the eurozone. The UK, however, is being left in the cold with a SCEUK rep confirming to GameSpot that there were "currently no plans to cut the price of PS2 in the UK."

Announcing the price cut, SCEA president Jack Tretton emphasized that "demand for PlayStation 2 remains strong throughout the world." He went on to suggest that the price cut would serve to boost PS3 sales down the line because it will serve to "bring in new consumers" to the PlayStation brand. Sony also promised continuing to support the platform "with new titles that appeal to families and casual gamers."

David Reeves, president of SCEE, highlighted the releases of SingStar Queen and MotorStorm: Arctic Edge as evidence for the "continued growth of the platform's library of content."

The now-very-affordable Slimline PS2 is less than one third the thickness of the original model, which first went on sale in the US in October 2000 for $299.99. At the time, Sony justified the then-high price point by the fact that the gaming device also played DVDs--then a cutting-edge feature. The PS2 went on to become the most popular console of all time, shipping more than 140 million units worldwide as of last summer and having 136 million sell-in units as of December 31.

Also last summer, Sony predicted that the PlayStation 3 would eventually overtake its elder brother's retail milestone. Unfortunately, sales of the console have lagged behind those of the Wii and Xbox 360 almost every month since its 2006 launch, thanks in large part to its high price. Currently, the PS3 is available in an a la carte $399.99 80GB model or as part of a limited-edition $499.99 160GB bundle containing the double-platinum hit Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. By contrast, the top-selling Wii is just $249.99, while the Xbox 360 is available in three models--the $399.99 120GB Elite, the $299.99 60GB Pro, and the hard-drive-less $199.99 Arcade--with similar pricing and sales discrepancies seen across the world.

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