The Americans were pulling little colon-”o” emoticons, but the news was greeted with surly derision in Europe. SCEA announced last week that the MGS4 gunmetal PS3 was to launch in America in limited quantities, the pack to include a 40Gb PS3, a DualShock 3 and the game itself.
America, it seems, is blessed by Sony. The region now has confirmation of the highly desirable gunmetal machine and an 80Gb MGS4 bundle, which will replace the current 80Gb Motorstorm pack in June when the latest Metal Gear launches.
Europe, however, still has no kind of special promotion announced for the launch of MGS4 (although SCEE did tell us this morning that it’s waiting to hear on whether or not we’re going to receive the MGS4 special edition).
Worse, there is still absolutely no official indication that an 80Gb SKU is heading this way and there’s no news on when we’re going to get DualShock 3. The weary hope is starting to turn sour: savvy European punters are simply getting tired of waiting.
An 80Gb PS3 was rumoured for Europe recently, but SCEE immediately slapped down the talk with a “no official word” comment.
The week following the emergence of the whispers, SCEA marketing boss Scott Steinberg admitted that the firm had underestimated demand for the 80Gb SKU in the US, and that the higher price point over the 40Gb pack had made no difference to stellar sales.
The fact is this: 40Gb is not enough for anyone that wants to use the machine for anything other than gaming, and whether or not you’re American or European the fact remains the same.
Not so solid
There may be light at the end of the tunnel, however. What claimed to be a Bartsmit PS3 release schedule last week made mention not only of a DualShock launch in May, but also of a Metal Gear Solid 4 pack for Europe.
While news of the bundle – and the GTA IV package the schedule was leaked to illustrate – should have been exciting to consumers, the European reaction on the internet was unified: “but I bet it’s just the 40Gb version with a Sixaxis.”
Time’s up, SCEE. There are a great many people in Europe that simply will not buy a PS3 now they can see the treatment the US is getting in terms of Sony hardware. For the late-adopting core demographic it’s not about a price drop any more, as our friends at SCEA found out over Christmas.
Even journalists are now becoming jaded, especially on the DualShock front, with sulky predictions of an autumn launch for the controller looking past the logic that it needs to be released in Europe in time for Metal Gear’s launch in June.
Why buy a 40Gb PS3 when an 80Gb machine is inevitable in this year? Why buy a Sixaxis bundle when you know DualShock 3 will have to be released in Europe at some point?
These aren’t difficult questions to answer, and it now seems obvious that SCEE’s late announcement on the hard drive upgrade and rumbling controller has arisen not through an unwillingness to being the hardware to Europe, but because of 40Gb bundling of titles such as GT5: Prologue.
Three Hail Maries
SCEE’s danger here is that ill feeling will leak out of the “savvy” consumer group in Europe and into a wider audience. How thrilled are punters going to be if they spent £300 on a 40Gb PS3 for GT5: Prologue only to find a few months later that their machines have 50 percent less capacity that the “new” machine and come with an obsolete controller? The answer is “very”, but “it wouldn’t have been so bad if they had made an informed buying decision.” The phrase “rock and a hard place” springs to mind.
Honesty is the best policy, Sony. Announce the 80Gb machine, announce a date for DualShock 3, announce a proper Metal Gear pack and start treating Europe as an equal. Face having PlayStation 3 associated with the phrase “depressingly inevitable” for much of this year if you don’t.