There has been, needless to say, a mixed reaction to Sony's announcement at their Tokyo Game Show press conference of a new, slimmer and light version of the PlayStation 3. A mixed reaction, as opposed to the joy many felt in 2009 when the first PS3 slim model was announced, because this time around there was no price cut coinciding with it.
As you might expect, the shock was immediate. Sony, already a company on the financial rocks, greedily keeping the price for the PS3 up to rake in money. A company which had taken some solid steps in showing appreciation for its customers once again sliding into an arrogant haze, more out of touch than Mitt Romney at a billionaire's fundraising event.
But, as you might expect, there is more to the story and situation than meets the eye. Unfortunately, only some of the media and blogs around seem to be willing to delve a little deeper.
As most people know, there are different currencies used throughout the world. Here in the United States, we use the dollars. In Europe, the euro. In Canada, Tim Horton's gift certificates (I kid Canada, I love you). In Japan, they happen to use something called the yen.
Now I'm no financial expert obviously, so if I'm off base on any of this, be sure to let me know. But from what I can tell, it just so happens that the Japanese yen is very strong compared to most other currencies right now, especially when it comes to a good ol' buck from Uncle Sam or a pound from Tony Blair's wallet. The result? Sony, a company who happens to count its profits in yen, receives less than it once did once all that messy conversion stuff is done to the foreign money we pay them.
Rob Fahey of VG247.com spells it out:
"You used to get well over 200 yen to the British Pound; now, in the wake of financial and natural disasters, it’s more like 120 yen to the Pound. What that means to games hardware is that when you buy a PS3 now, Sony (whose accounts are all in yen, obviously) is actually getting less than two-thirds of the money it would have received if you bought a PS3 for the same price a few years ago."
That is pretty much what it boils down to. Does it suck for us? Of course it does. Judging by Sony's PlayStation history (in no way speaking of their history of other products here), Sony has always significantly lowered the price of previous PlayStation systems as they aged. This is the first time that a new slim model hasn't been accompanied with a significant price cut (I know there have been minor revisions to the slim PS2 that may not have also been announced with a cut) and I believe its solely due to the current scenario regarding the yen.