There is no public relations machine more picked apart than Sony's. The company asks for the jabs sometimes, but in an age of copy-and-paste communication and infinitely expanding anonymous message boards, a poor choice of words instantly transforms into an Internet mockery -- a viral problem not limited to Sony, but one they've dealt with constantly in the past year or so.
And so when Sony's UK managing director Ray Maguire sat down with GamesIndustry.biz to discuss the differences between the company's approach to pricing and promotion PlayStation 3 in Europe and the United States, Maguire probably wishes he could take back this comment, given how differently it can be misconstrued:
"If you take what's considered to be the most expensive and the least expensive -- consider the US with its massive land and cheap people. Then you look at the UK -- a little island where rent and rates are at an absolute premium, and the cost of people is a lot more. The cost of retail is vastly more in the UK than it is in the US and that's before you even stop to consider the US doesn't have VAT at RRP, they put a small amount on afterwards. Whereas, we get stung by 17.5 per cent. And pity the poor Irish and places like Sweden."
On its face, it appears Maguire's accusing Americans of being cheap -- but he's not. Reading between his verbal misstep, he simply meant the cost of living and labor in the two countries are different, a theory Sony Computer Entertainment America confirmed with 1UP this morning. Minimum wage in the UK is 5.25 GBP, roughly $10/hour in USD, versus $5.15 in the US (ignoring the current push for an increased wage) -- wouldn't that make us, essentially, "cheaper?"