Sony surprised a lot of video game industry analysts yesterday when it announced that the PSP would launch in Japan this year and for a sub-$200 price, but that hasn’t stopped the analysts from continuing to predict that the PSP’s U.S. launch in March might be pushed back several months to June or later. Still the price point did manage to get the analysts to be a little more optimistic about what the PSP price might be when it eventually does launch in the states:
Regardless of whether the PSP makes its U.S. launch date, the system will arrive with momentum on its side. Traditionally, when Sony has launched hardware in Japan, it offers a moderate price reduction when it brings the device overseas. When the PlayStation 2 launched in Japan, for example, it carried a price tag equivalent to $360-$370. When the PS2 hit U.S. shores seven months later, it sold for $299.
So, could Sony plan to launch the PSP in North America for as low as $150? It’s certainly possible – especially if the system does get delayed. If it does launch for under $150, expect the gaming world to go into a feeding frenzy.
“The pricing decision is going to depend on what features get delivered in a high quality way,” said Taylor. “If the product delivers a really high quality video and audio experience, then I don’t think they need to drop down to the DS [price] level. If, on the other hand, it’s going to be just a game machine, I think they’d be well advised to drop the price.”
I’m not as sure that the PSP’s ability to play movies and music is going to be as important to its sales as these guys suggest—that’s mainly because I couldn’t care less about that aspect of it myself—but I’m hardly your typical gamer. I do agree that the PSP would do well to have a killer app shortly after its launch and that could very well come in the form of a Grand Theft Auto game written specifically for the PSP that is believed to already be in development. If it’s an original game rather than just a straight port of one of the existing games then that could be a big incentive right there.
Assuming, of course, that the parent groups and Senator Lieberman haven’t had everyone at Rockstar Games rounded up and shot by then…