Sony drops features from NGP to keep price down

Sony boss explains that certain features were dropped from the forthcoming NGP handheld in order to keep pricing down
Sony boss explains that certain features were dropped from the forthcoming NGP handheld in order to keep pricing down

Sony has dropped certain features that it originally wanted to have in the forthcoming NGP handheld gaming console in order to keep the pricing down, according to a Sony studios boss.

SCE Worldwide Studio boss Shuhei Yoshida told Edge that some elements were deliberately dropped from the NGP plan, following lessons learned from the original PS3 launch.

NGP pricing concerns

Pricing of Sony's Next Generation Portable is likely to not be announced for some time yet, with hopeful rumours on games news sites suggesting the new console may well arrive in time for Christmas 2011.

Gamers will no doubt remember E3 2006, when Sony revealed the launch price of $599 for the US and £499 for the UK for its (then new) PS3 home console.

"I can't talk about a definitive price [for NGP] at this stage," SCE Worldwide Studio boss Shuhei Yoshida told Edge this month. "But since the very beginning we had a target in mind. So, when considering various features, we always had our price range in mind. There were elements that we found pretty cool, but had to set aside to remain on target. It's a big lesson we learnt from the PS3.

"There's no point putting everything you want into a device and doing the math later. We always had the price and consumer in mind. We had to sell something that people could buy."

What those elements were will no doubt be the subject of flurried and flustered debates on gaming forums for the next six months, as we all await further news on Sony's launch plans for NGP.

Analyst Nick Gibson from Games Investor Consulting told TechRadar: "Getting hardware pricing strategies right is an extremely difficult balancing act between including features that will add to the appeal and differentiation of the hardware and minimising the loss (or, in Nintendo's case, maximising the profit) on each new hardware unit sold-in to retail.

"Gamer tastes and spending proclivities are ever changing so it is not too surprising that Sony is still learning lessons from its most recent major hardware launch."

£300 sweet spot?

Daniel Dawkins, editor of PSM3 magazine, said explained to TechRadar: "I think the retailer-mooted £300 – or just under at £299.99 – is critical to its success. Sony says they've learnt lessons, and while my inclination is to scepticism, the hardware design and software suite certainly reflects gamer feedback and nods to market trends.

"Whatever the price, they'll launch with OK numbers to the hardcore early adopters but, as ever, killer content is key – can they lure hardcore, but less cash flush, gamers to NGP in the way that, say, Nintendogs or Brain Training did for casual gamers on DS?

A straight Uncharted port wouldn't be enough – it'd need to be an all new franchise entry, with all the clout of Uncharted 3."

Dawkins also believes that success of the console may lie in the diversity and pricing of the PlayStation Suite: "Sony needs a wide variety of apps, from the novelty, to the ingenious, costing anywhere from 60p to full price £30 or more," he explained.

"Sony has got a portable games machine that's slightly more expensive than iPhone (up front, at least), but with better games, that's cheaper than iPad, with similar media browsing abilities.

"When you put it that way, it sounds like a classic 'danger' mid-market proposition – making the premium on content even higher"

Via CVG and MCV

Adam Hartley