Sony Still Thinking Big For 'Entry-Level' PS2

As the PlayStation 2 comes up on its ninth Christmas, SCEA sales and marketing VP Ian Jackson says the economic downturn might make Sony's last-gen console a more attractive option than ever -- and since it offers an "entry-level product into the PlayStat
Like many companies in the market, Sony's attitude toward the economy seems best described as cautious optimism. SCEA sales and marketing VP Ian Jackson has been calling up retailers and hearing solid things, he said at BMO Capital Markets' Interactive Entertainment Conference yesterday. "Our retail partners... I think if you were to call them in the last week or so, while they are hesitant and concerned somewhat about where the economy is going, actual unit numbers that are coming out of the video game sector are actually doing fairly well right now," he said. Jackson focused on the overall performance of the PlayStation brand, which he says continues to strengthen worldwide. "We're trending in the right direction... and if this is any indication, then I think it's good for the overall video game sector, and certainly, the holidays are going to come, and people are going to buy the product," he said. And though the last-gen PlayStation 2, now outpaced by all of its new-generation counterparts in monthly NPD results, is considered by many to be a declining, Sony seems to see an opportunity for the low-priced hardware -- and its unmatched software library -- to continue to succeed in a weak economy. Sony's still counting on 3 to 4 million PlayStation 2 units sold this fiscal year -- close to a third of its overall brand plan -- just ahead of the console's ninth Christmas. "Nine years in and PlayStation 2 is still on the shelf this Christmas, and is still selling very well," Jackson said. "And as a matter of fact, in a tight economy, is a great value proposition for the consumer," he added. And in addition to being a "value" option for the holiday season, Jackson says Sony still aims for the PS2 to be the consumer's gateway into its newer hardware. "We are still, as we enter into this ninth holiday season, conscious of the fact that when we're offering an entry-level product that you get in the PS2, we want to ensure that we're giving as much value to the consumer as we possibly can, and giving the most aggressive price point as the entry-level product into the PlayStation brand of products." He also said that software developers are still showing "a tremendous amount of support" for PlayStation 2 -- and Sony wants to expand the console's user base further with a launch into the South American market. In phase one of this expansion, Sony has been "aggressively going after" markets in Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Peru since September; "it will be an ongoing launch for us," Jackson said. "The early indication on both PSP and PS2 is that there is still very strong demand," he added. The company will likely begin expanding into the Brazilian market, which Jackson said offers the "biggest opportunity" for Sony, throughout Spring and Summer in 2009.

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