Segamania sparked by the Dreamcast launch on September 9 was only the latest hiccup in the console indigestion that has been brewing for months. The drop below US$100 in Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation consoles, along with the new US$19.99 pricepoint for many Sony back-titles, may signify the competition’s line drawn in the sand-or not.
PC Data’s president Ann Stephens says of the pricing plummet: ‘There’s nothing shocking here. They’re just going along with market forces.’ Stephens says the lower pricing is a trend that has been going on for a long time, and that the price drop was ‘inevitable anyway,’ regardless of Dreamcast. On August 16, Nintendo cut its console to US$99, and Sony followed suit on August 23 with PlayStation priced the same. Both retailed for US$129 previously. Dreamcast, on the other hand, will put the consumer back US$199.
Stephens says the new US$19.99 price for many titles is indicative of the same trend. There are about 150 PlayStation titles being republished at the new price, along with roughly 50 titles already on the shelves, being marketed as Sony’s ‘greatest hits.’
All three console kings are backing products with serious bucks, with Sony pumping US$150 million into marketing to highlight the new PlayStation and title pricing, Nintendo with US$150 million for Nintendo 64 and another US$50 million to support Game Boy, and Sega’s marketing pinnacle reaching the US$100-million high-water mark for Dreamcast.
Price drops aside, both Sega competitors are rallying around their next generation consoles and their most popular titles, with Sony releasing details of its next PlayStation console four days after the Dreamcast debut. PlayStation 2 will ship in Japan March 4, 2000 for a steep US$374, with Sony planning to ship a whopping one million units in the first week. The console will be available in Europe and North America in fall 2000. PlayStation 2 will be capable of supporting DVD formats, and is being advertised as the console to bring together movies, games, music and the Net.
Nintendo, in the meantime, is busy pushing its Pokémon titles for all they’re worth with this month’s release of Pokémon Yellow for Nintendo 64 and Color Game Boy. The company also plans a holiday 2000 release of its next generation console Dolphin, although it has not yet released art nor an estimated price for the mysterious console. Nintendo is also talking up its 11-tier Color Game Boy, and is projecting 7.5 million unit sales for this year. New hands-on POP retail displays made with Frank Mayer & Associates support the latest Color Game Boy.