Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
05 July 2007
When did the original PlayStation drop in price?
My friend Kyle was asking me when the original Sony PlayStation -- the PS1 or PSX as we called it back then -- dropped in price. I had looked when I did my recent piece on console price cuts, but hadn't looked in the right places. With a bit of Lexis-Nexis hunting, I came up with the following:

Sony PlayStation launches on 9 September 1995 at $300 (i.e. $299.99).

The first price drop is from $300 to $200 and it happens on Thursday 16 May 1996, according to an AP news item that day titled "With Rollout of New Systems, Upturn Begins in Video Game Industry" written by Evan Ramstad. Quote:
The Nintendo machine, along with Sony's Playstation and Sega's Saturn, stand out from their predecessors in graphics, speed and game-playing features. Sony lowered the price of its system from $ 300 to $ 200 on Thursday, beating the $ 250 price level of Sega and Nintendo.
The second price drop is from $200 to $150 (i.e. $149.99) on Monday 3 March 1997, according to an AP news item that same day titled "Sony slashes prices of PlayStation, Nintendo says it will not follow" written by Rachel Beck. Quote:
Sony Computer Entertainment America launched a price war in the video-game industry Monday when it slashed the cost of its PlayStation system and accompanying software by over 25 percent.

Sony's popular PlayStation will now have a suggested retail price of $ 149, down $ 50, and its games will sell for $ 49.99 and under from the previous price of about $ 70.

Rival video-game maker Nintendo said it would not immediately match the cuts, although analysts said the Japanese company may have to pare prices soon to compete.
If someone has the dates for later drops, let me know and I'll add them.

To my knowledge, the precise dates of these drops were not available out on the generally available internets, but there they are now.

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--Matt Matthews at 21:43
Comment [ 4 ]

Comments on this post:

I have the book "Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and The Visionaries Who Conquered the World of Video Games" by Reiji Asakura which talks about a snap decision price cut in Japan that happened very early. I'll look it up and provide the citation.

By Blogger MonkeyKing1969, at 06 July, 2007 12:31  

Please do. I will look up this book -- sounds like something I should/would read. I need to get that Xbox book too...

By Blogger jvm, at 06 July, 2007 20:36  

Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation and The Visionaries Who Conquered The World of Video Games (Hardcover)
by Reiji Asakura

pg. 169-171

After its launch, the PlayStation incorporated a number of potentially cost-cutting designs. As we've seen, parts count fell sharply, and there was a dramatic overall production cost reduction due to lower parts costs and fewer production processes. The greatest cost savings were realized not on the initial modest production volume, but on the much higher volume after sales of the unit started to soar.

The company took a substantial loss on the first model, which retailed for $399, but today the cost is a third of what it was then. The most strategic action in this respect was that sales revenues were not all plowed into profit, but were used in moves that would lower the retail price.

The retail price of the first model (SCPH-1000, launched in December 1994) was $399, the second model (SCPH-3000, released in July 1995) was $299, the third model (SCPH-3500, launched in March 1996) was $249, the fourth model (SCPH-5000, released in June 1996) was $199, and the fifth model (SCPH-7000, launched in November 1997) was $180. Needless to say, the fall in price led to expansion of the user base from die-hard game lovers to the general public.

There was another strategic purpose in slashing the price of the PlayStation: to draw Sega into a price war. In fact, Sony lowered the price in stages to make it easier for Sega to take up the challenge. Kutaragi predicted that Sega would have difficulty reducing the high cost of the Saturn, because the Saturn was a collection of parts supplied by different companies.

On November 22, 1994, the day the Saturn went on sale, Gotoh immediately acquired one and took it apart. He was astonished to discover how complex the structure was, with cables running all over the PCBs. It was an inconceivable structure for Gotoh, whose design imperatives were simplicity and ease of manufacture, and obviously much harder to manufacture than PlayStation's. If Sony reduced the price of PlayStation, to follow suit in order to Sega would have stay competitive, but Saturn's high manufacturing cost would then translate into huge losses for the company.

As expected, Sega took up Sony's challenge. When Sony reduced the price of PlayStation by $100 in June 1995, Sega began selling a set of Saturn hardware and software, with more than $100 off the price of the two bought a la carte, and subsequently reduced the hardware price by $100 from $449 to $349.

By the end of 1995, Sega's counteroffensive had defeated PlayStation. Although it was the year end, a time of peak demand, PlayStation did not have many best-selling software products. Sony found that PlayStation was outclassed by Saturn. "We were unprepared,'' Gotoh admits.

But Sony fought back. Sega could not help but retaliate against Sony's attempts to provoke a price war. In February 1998, Sega changed its policy and decided to no longer pursue volume by lowering the price of the Saturn. It was effectively a declaration of defeat in the battle against PlayStation. In the fiscal year ended March 1998, Sega wrote off the cumulative losses of its U.S. subsidiary and posted a loss of $4.3 billion, going into the red for the first time since going public in 1988.

Sega published a full-page advertisement in the major morning papers on May 21, 1998. The ad depicted a battlefield from Japan's Country at War Era-the fifteenth and sixteenth century - with bodies of brutally slain armored samurai everywhere. The ad contained the Sega logo and a tattered flag. The copy read, "Has Sega been defeated for good?" The next day's papers carried another full-page ad, with exhausted warriors struggling to their feet. Sega was down but not out. Executives were regrouping to fight another day.

By Blogger MonkeyKing1969, at 06 July, 2007 21:00  

Not sure if you're still looking, but US PS1 price cuts can be found here.

By Blogger Temp Variable, at 24 January, 2009 03:51  

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