09 June 2013

Things to Look Out for at E3 2013: Part One

Price cuts, price cuts, price cuts.

It's still a few months until the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One are launched and with sales of current systems stalling Sony and Microsoft need something to help bring in the cash in the meantime. The majority of PlayStation 2 sales occurred after the standard price dropped below $250 and while there might not be a repeat of that trend this time round dropping the price of the PS3 would likely spur at least some sales.

Both Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter and Sterne Agee's Arvind Bhatia have speculated that the price of the PS4 at launch will be less than $400; if Sony announce such a price on Monday (even if it's only $399.99) there'll be added incentive to drop the price of the PS3, and quickly.

Past Sony price cuts have typically been met with a response from Microsoft although the Xbox press conference comes first so this time it could very well be the other way round. Regardless, expect reductions in the price of current generation consoles no later than gamescom in August.

The PlayStation Vita has, as we all know, consistently struggled and while the news that PS4 remote play on the portable is compulsory for all but a few select PS Eye based titles is welcome it probably won't be enough to encourage sales. A price cut might.

We know Killzone: Mercenary, Freedom Wars, Tearaway and more are coming to the system. While these will all most likely be fantastic games in their own right it would be an awful shame if they failed at retail because of the Vita's limited install base. By dropping the price, Sony might at least do enough that while those games won't perform as well as they should they'll nonetheless have a chance.

Of course, there's also Nintendo's platforms to consider. The 3DS certainly disappointed in sales terms upon initial release and the quick introduction of a lower price helped turn around the floundering platform, proving that while cost reductions aren't a surefire way to success they certainly can help boost a platform.

Since then the 3DS has gone on to be a roaring success however, the Wii U has failed to meet expectations consistently selling poorly and as bad as the consoles performance in North America has been Nintendo has had an even worse time in Europe which has fallen below Japan to become the company's most challenging territory.

While Nintendo of America is setting up demo stands in Best Buys across the country this week Nintendo of Europe has no such plans - in part because there are no pan-European game retailers - there's also extremely limited marketing of the console in the region. If Nintendo hope to revive their console's fortunes they'll almost certainly need more than a stellar first party lineup; they need a price cut and they need to start marketing and marketing on a massive scale.

Price cuts are usually implemented quickly and retailer often introduce them before they're officially implemented; if the big three announce such measures at their press conferences, or at the E3 Nintendo Direct, you should expect them to come in before the end of the week.

Not all of these consoles will see their price reduced, perhaps none of them will, but it makes sense for each of the big three to do so. We'll find out if they do over the coming days.

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