Sales of Sony’s PlayStation 3 have been given a boost in North America since it cut the price of the console and introduced a cheaper version at the beginning of November.
The company said Thursday that combined sales of the older 80GB model and the new 40GB model have increased by 192 percent at the top-10 major retailers in North America and “more than doubled” overall.
After seeing poor sales all year the company cut the price of the 80GB model from US$599 to US$499, and introduced a cheaper US$399 version on Nov. 2, with a lower capacity hard-disk drive. In addition to the smaller drive, the cheaper version lacks the ability to play PlayStation 2 titles.
The higher sales are good news for Sony, which has been running in third place in the console battle in the U.S. In October, 121,000 PlayStation 3 consoles were shipped, according to estimates from NPD Group. That ranks it lower than the seven-year-old PlayStation 2, which shipped 184,000 units in the month. The market-leading Nintendo Wii shipped 519,000 units and Microsoft’s Xbox 360 shipped 366,000 units, said NPD.
However, the higher sales will likely increase losses in Sony’s company’s gaming business. The unit reported a ¥96.7 billion (US$895 million) operating loss in the July to September quarter, largely because Sony is losing money on each PlayStation 3 console sold. It is looking to increase market share, and boost the number of game titles available to offset the losses with future software sales.
Going into the U.S. holiday season Sony is running its largest marketing effort to date in an attempt to kick-start sales of the PlayStation 3. The national advertising campaign will see commercials air on several TV networks including NBC, Fox and the ESPN cable sports channel.
To compete better at the low-end, where Nintendo’s Wii has stolen a lead with its innovative motion-sensing controller and low price, Sony is offering a bundle of the PlayStation 2 with the SingStar Pro software and two microphones for US$149.