Sony has made plenty of missteps of late--not least delaying the PlayStation3's launch in Europe until the spring. But in Japan at least it can't be accused of ignoring customers. Speaking this morning in a keynote address at the Tokyo Game Show, PlayStation chief Ken Kutaragi revealed that the PS3 will now go on sale in Japan for 49,980 yen ($429). Earlier, Sony had said a lower-end PS3 would retail for 59,800 yen, excluding sales tax, making for a saving of about $85. "The Japanese users and media would not stop saying the price tag was too expensive," he explained. Kutaragi also confirmed that the PS3 will include an HDMI output connection that allows high-definition pictures on its cheaper 20GB model. Previously, Sony had said the connection would just be on the more costly 60GB version. For both announcements Kutaragi received spontaneous rounds of applause from the audience.
While a better value PS3 will welcomed by Japan's gamers, the moves suggest Sony is worried about the challenge from Nintendo's new Wii. While Microsoft's Xbox 360 has disappointed in Japan since its launch last year, analysts have warmed to the Wii as its launch gets closer. One reason is its cool wireless controller and wide appeal. However, it's probable that it was Nintendo's 25,000 yen ($215) Japan price for the Wii, confirmed last week, which triggered Kutaragi's announcement. Both consoles will be launched in November.