At E3 in Los Angeles earlier this week, Sony executives - finally - announced a firm launch date and price for PlayStation3. The unit will ship on Nov. 11 in Japan and six days later in the U.S.
The delay announced earlier this year was tough to swallow. I've really been looking forward to getting the new model - even got a birthday check in February to be put towards a PS3 purchase. So November? It's a long way off, but manageable.
The price? Much less so: $499 for the 20-GB (a.k.a. cheap version) or $599 for the 60-GB version.
Moreover, the 20-GB version is missing some features that are on the 60-GB version (besides just more hard drive space).
That's a lot of money to drop for a video game system. Perhaps Sony is trying to find the threshold at which consumers won't pay for a system anymore. Sure, they've already got the hardcore gamers and high-end consumer regulars locked up. They don't mind shelling out.
But for a regular family, that's a lot of money - even for the cheaper version. That same money could get you a nice digital camera, a low-end (but still very serviceable) computer and, if you got the cheapest option at Best Buy, would get you a washer-dryer combination. All of those things would benefit the family as a whole on a regular basis - not just one or two members on a more infrequent basis (in the long term).
My wife and I (it's both of us, because I'm the video-game player and she's the breadwinner) have a couple of options.
-- Stand pat with the PS2. Sounds like the best - and most likely - option for now. However, Rockstar Games has announced that Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3 and XBox 360 versions) hits the shelves on Oct. 16, 2007. I am a huge GTA fan, so we'll have to decide on another course of action sometime in the next 15 months. (And no, I don't know why I'm worried about this now.)
-- Buy a 360. An OK option, but it would render the 15 or so PS2 games I have useless and I'd have to start a whole new catalog to get even a few 360 games I'd want. Any savings from buying a 360 would be negated in playing catch-up with the software.
-- Suck it up and buy the PS3. I'm loathe to admit Sony has me by the balls, but, well, they have me by the balls.
Perhaps this sounds as if it runs counter to the whole discussion about the big-screen television, where, from a man's point of view, bigger and newer is always better. That's true to an extent, but the fact is that both my wife and I will get a lot more use and enjoyment out of watching a new TV than the enjoyment I'll get from the PS3. And my wife is very tolerant, but not so tolerant that I could walk home with a PS3 without any prior discussion.
Maybe we'll hit the lottery and it will be a moot point. But until that happens, I've got some thinking to do.