Tretton defends high platform pricing

"People are used to spending several hundreds of dollars to get a portable device"

SCEA president and CEO Jack Tretton has defended high price points for platform hardware, saying that the quality of a console or handheld is reflected in its pricing.

Speaking in a series of video interviews with Fast Company, Tretton compared the purchase of gaming equipment to other consumer electronics such as iPhones or iPods.

"I think when you're buying a platform, when you're buying technology, you're hopefully buying a device you're going to enjoy for many, many years," Tretton claims.

"People are used to spending several hundreds of dollars to get a portable device. I think in the long run, when you look at that total investment in a platform, the amount of money you spend on the hardware is a relatively small percentage of the total investment.

"It's not to say the price of the platform isn't a consideration, but I don't think price makes or kills a platform. Something that's lousy, that's very inexpensive, is not going to be successful, and something that's pricey will ultimately find its audience if there's enough value there."

The comments would seem to be setting the stage for a relatively high purchase price for Sony's forthcoming NGP handheld, which Tretton himself postulated could be delayed into a staggered territory release by last month's Japanese earthquake and tsunami disaster.

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Latest comments (15)

Nicholas Lovell Founder, Gamesbrief8 years ago
I think he may be right that consumers are happy to spend a high price for their hardware. It's the software I worry about, especially as we transition to digital.
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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 8 years ago
I don't think anyone has ever had an issue with the hardware pricing, it's the software pricing that's the issue.
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Lets do a straw poll for NGP software

Value For Money
Are you NUTs?

- £8.99
- £19.99
- £29.99
- £39.99

I reckon, NGP pricing for software would be

- £8.99 (bargain)
- £19.99 (value for money)
- £29.99 (expensive)
- £39.99 (AYN)
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Show all comments (15)
Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
Oh dear. This isn't the impression I got from the PS3 launch, where they struggled to sell at £450 or whatever, and it took a price drop or two to get selling.

The original Xbox launched at £350 in the uk, and wasn't it only a month before they had to reduce the price to £250, giving original buyers a game and controller to keep em sweet.

The original playstation certainly benifitted from the Saturn being £100 more expensive.

Back when I was young, everyone wanted game gears or lynxes, but ended up with game boys becuase they were cheaper.

You can't compare it to iPhones becuase a) most people get expensive phones free on contracts, b) Apple have the early adopters eating out of their hand. Any other company needs to remember that they are not Apple.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
An iPhone with a 2 year contract can go as little as 100$ or even free in some offers. Ive been doing this for many years and I find it easier to purchase hardware and software at lower prices. They want to justify the high prices much like Ken Kutaragi tried justifying paying 600$ for a PS3. Im sorry, but I dont buy this. Ive always waited for price drops and if I dont see the value in something I dont buy it even if I had the money.

Besides an iPHONE is something that many business people use for business not for games. Communication, networking, making sales, conferencing, storing data for important presentations. I can see a big business Guru who is LOADED spending 600$ on a new IPHONE just for kicks. Just because he's got nothing else to spend his money on.

But we are talking the gaming industry here, kids and a wider demographic of people who play games and who buy these products simply to play games... not be all day on the phone hunting for stocks. I wonder if these big shots who run these big companies like SONY, have any idea of who buys there products. I bet they drive every morning to work or in most cases hire a chofer thinking everyone is like them.

You know i love the whole idea of the NGP, I think if the product description is like they say, they have a far supperior product then the 3DS. The 3D doesnt really change the gameplay for me and its more gimmicky than anything else. And its full of so many ported games that I really dont find the 3DS worth it when ive played half those games already.

However I like the rear touch panel of the NGP and the connectivity options. I think that rear touch panel offers many options for innovative controller inputs and the touch screen is a welcome addition. But I am not paying more then 200$ for it, end of story. And even so ill probably wait for a price drop between 150$ and 190$.

I criticize bullet storm alot. you pay 60$ for a 7 hour game and DLC was announced the day it was released, so if you wantthe full game expirience you have to pay more. So bulletstorm in reality costs more than 60$. And for a 7 hour game, who are they kidding.

However last week i picked up borderlands GOTY edition for 19.99$ and Dragon Age Origines:Ultimate edition for 49.99 both brand new. And for the ammount of content and steller gameplay, they were totally worth it.

I really find more value in these games with all the DLC packed in. I also bought Fallout 3 GOTY edition and that was totally worth it. And with god of war 3, Heavy rain and Killzone 2 hitting the greatest hits collection at 19.99-30$ I grab em off the shelf when I see em.

Seriously, lower prices make me more prone to buying a brand new game.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game8 years ago
I don't see greed coming into it. The are a business, a corporation with stockholders and as such there reason for existing is to make money. The reason for loweringthe price wouldn't be to be nicey nicey genorous, it would be that it would increase sales/install base and allow for more sales. The question isn't whether they make too much on each hardware unit, they made losses on each PS3 sold, and although they said they now wish to make a profit on NGPs, I'm guessing the margin will be small. The question is whether the high production costs that they will incur will be reflected in consumer willingness to pay for it. My guess is that if it is more than the 3DS, the answer will be no, they may have just put in too much tech.
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Andreas Firnigl senior designer, Cohort Studios Ltd8 years ago
So far Sony don't seem to have put a foot wrong with the NGP. It has all the features people want (twin sticks, 3G, touch, shader support, etc), it has a very strong software line up buy the looks of things, they are actively and aggressively tackling the 59p app store model with PlayStation Suite, and up until now they've been indicating it shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. Actually acknowledging PS3's false start was almost entirely down to the ridiculous price.

If they can come in close to the 3DS in terms of pricing and have the right software at launch they're onto a winner, I reckon. Japan is still lapping up the PSP, and they already showed NGP Monster Hunter, so that territory is sewn up. If they can show COD at E3 (online and with twin sticks!), Europe and North America shouldn't be difficult to convince either, as long as the price is right!

[edit] my awful grammar

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andreas Firnigl on 6th April 2011 3:08pm

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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
To: Andreas Firnigl>>>> Agreed.
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Justin Titus Writer 8 years ago
As long as its some where around 250-300 euros I will buy it, if its more then that it better come with some added value like a game pack or something along those lines.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 8 years ago
One thing I'd suggest Sony do is instead of relying on the old "if we make it, they will BUY more because it has our name on it" model, take a look at some of the game-only portables or more open handhelds such as the GP32 and its assorted updated models to whatever is out there today. Granted, they didn't/don't get the PR dollars spent on them that the PSP and NGP (blarghle. namc. change. please.) are getting, but they do allow users to tailor them to how they want their game/multimedia experiences to be.

If the "NGP" and PLEASE change that name!) is going to succeed, I think we'll need to see a few different model variants (or at least the option to drop or add features sort of like apps) that cater to those who don't want all those bells and whistles they're not even going to use. I personally don't care about a lot of the functions - I just want to play some games worth dragging my ass down to a store to buy that aren't clones or repacked older stuff that's still hugely popular (popular isn't always GOOD, folks)...

I got a good laugh at having to help a neighbor set up her kid's 3DS last week because she (even with the manual and some online help) could not for the life of her figure a few things out, why there were all those cameras around and that the stylus... retracted (shocking!). "He just wants to play Pokemon, so all this other stuff is kind of useless for him" was the comment of the day after I showed her some of the pre-installed games and features. I just assured here that he'll get used to all that stuff - kids are smart like that... That, and the kid is ten, so it not as if he's not going to want to play something better than the launch lineup had (what the hell was up with the weakness there?)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 6th April 2011 4:52pm

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Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports8 years ago
I can't help but think that they've missed the point. Comparing to a phone is a silly notion. Firstly, people rarely pay for the full cost of the phone up front. Secondly a phone is something people carry around with them all the time; it's something they use every day. Adding extra useful features such as internet browsing and a few games to a phone makes sense. But I can't see it working the other way around. A handheld games console is something I'm going to take with me only when I know I'm going to have time to play on it. It doesn't matter how many whistles and bells you add to it; I'm just not going to ever carry it around like I do my phone. I'm also not going to use it as much as my phone so I don't think I want it to be costing as much as a high end phone.
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 8 years ago
I dont use my phone to play games, its a stupid comparition. Besides I never really paid for my phone when signing up with a carrier. I know very few people who actually paid 600$ for an iPHONE. This guy needs a reality check. This is Ken Kutaragi all over again. I remember when Ken Kutaragi made a comment about people willing to work over time or have two jobs just to make more money to buy a ps3, because in his mind it was worth it to them. Im not sure if the statement i made was correct but he said something like that. The point is that comment drove people off the wall.

I have a PS3 I love my PS3... BUT i would not pay 600$ for it. The NGP sounds great. i just hope they can get the price right.
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Justin Jackson8 years ago
I have a PS3 and I loved it too, until it shat itself. The only reason why i had it repaired and didn't replace it was the fact it was a Gen 1 60GB. That was 8 months ago, and then just last Saturday the laser shat itself again... Funnily enough the first time happened straight after I received an update...(some of you may know of this BS) Time and time again i've heard how my friends have had to go buy another PS3 or XBOX IT'S BULLSHIT!!

Senario; was playing Tekken, friends come over for matches, went on line to check for downloadable match vid, "Sony Update required" message, so i updated, optical drive never worked again. Sony have ALWAYS been a milk-the-market organization eg. PS2 --> 2 controller ports to make you purchase 4-way when both MS and Nintendo had 4 on their machines. And to be fair XBOX hardware has been hardly up to scratch either, far from it in fact.

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Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation 8 years ago
I paid £400 (full price) for my HTC Desire Z series. The notion behind it wasn't for gaming but the games like Angry Birds and other freeware do come in handy when waiting at the airport or for a train. If anything, the reason I bought that specific smartphone was due to the keypad (sorry but old school typer and fat fingers here, so touch screens are out for me :P)

While I do agree that they should stop comparing handheld consoles to phones, the same could be said for people comparing consoles to PC's or even as far as comparing Macs to PC's. So now you are asking yourself, why is he making those comments? Well it's simple...

Over the years, technology has changed, it has changed the way we live and what we need. Companies think of the next best thing and begin experimenting, ideas form and before you know it, you have a camera in your phone. Two years later, you have a MP3 player and radio in your phone. A few years after that your console can browse the web, use social networks and "try" to be a PC

So my point? Sure the NGP can't call or text your nextdoor neighbour to ask if they can feed your cat while you are on holiday but what do smartphones and handheld consoles have in common these days? That's right, gaming and since everyone is on the move these days, they are aiming towards a massive chunk of a market

So yes, in that respect I can see why they compare the NGP to a phone since I still remember back in the day when everyone was taken off their feet by the game "Snake" on the Nokia 3210
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Tomas Lidström Lighting Artist, People Can Fly8 years ago
Difference being that platform DOES last for years and is an investment, whereas alot of games these days you play for 5-15 hours and then youre done (with a few clear exception that has a big multiplayer community).

From where I am sitting, one of two things should happen: games need to bring more value (which is no small a thing in this AAA oriented industry...) or games needs to drop in price to better represent the time you spend with the game.

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