After several rounds of rumors and denials, Sony has officially announced via press release that the 60Gb model of its Blu-ray enabled PlayStation 3 will be reduced to $499 as of July 15.
In addition to the $100 price cut, the company also says it will introduce a new 80Gb edition of the console retailing for $599, which will come bundled with the flagship PS3 racing title 'MotorStorm.'
"As we move into the next phase of PS3, it's important that we continue to evaluate our product line, offering consumers the technology and features that meet their growing needs for new forms of media and the way in which it is delivered," said Jack Tretton, president and CEO of SCEA.
"The introduction of the 80GB PS3, the new pricing for the current 60GB model, the availability of more than 100 new software titles this fiscal year and, finally, the expansion of services for PlayStation Network, will provide even more options for users and will help bring new consumers into the PS3 fold," he added.
Today's announcement comes at a crucial time for the PS3. While more than 3.6 million units have been sold worldwide since launch, PS3 sales have lagged behind Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's Xbox 360, which are both more competitively priced. Sony is clearly counting on this price cut to help level the playing field for the PS3 among its game console brethren.
But the move could have even greater ramifications for the high-def format war. Already responsible for catapulting Blu-ray software sales to a reported two-to-one lead over HD DVD since the beginning of 2007, the lower price tag for the PS3 can only help the Blu-ray format as it introduces yet more uninitiated consumers to the wonders of high-def disc.
Although it's still a good two hundred dollars more than the least expensive stand-alone HD DVD players, with its new competitive pricing, the 60Gb PS3 now shares honors with Sony's second-generation BDP-S300 Blu-ray player as the least expensive Blu-ray player on the market.