Who Needs a PlayStation 4 When You Can Have a ‘PS3 Slimmer’?

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If you woke to the news yesterday morning wondering why Sony chose the Tokyo Game Show to out a new slimmer-than-slim PlayStation 3, well, just do the math: The PS3 outsells the Xbox 360 in Japan roughly six to one, whereas Sony’s set-top lags behind Microsoft’s Xbox 360 in unit sales by around 15 million units this side of the Pacific.

The new slimmer, even lighter PlayStation 3 looks a little like a curvier version of the PS2 slim — almost book-sized, though with a slight bulge in the middle, giving it an elliptical appearance. At half the size of the original 2006 model and roughly a quarter smaller than the current PS3 Slim, you could slip this new “PS3 Slimmer” into a backpack comfortably and tote it around like a laptop. (Whether you would or not is another question.)

(MORE: Isn’t It Time for a PlayStation Vita Price Cut?)

In the U.S., it’ll be available in two configurations: a 250 GB version for $270 with Uncharted 3 (Game of the Year edition), Dust 514 (the free-to-play EVE Online-connected shooter) and a voucher for $30 of related digital content, and a 500 GB version for $300 that’ll bundle Ubisoft’s upcoming American Revolution-era sneaker, Assassin’s Creed III.

In the U.S., the 250 GB PS3 (up from 160 GB) will be available starting Sept. 25, while the 500 GB model (up from 320 GB) will be available a month later on Oct. 30 (the same day Assassin’s Creed III arrives). Sony’s also offering a white version in Japan, but it looks like the U.S. is limited to Sony’s classic “piano black” flavor.

Also: Note the ribbing across the midsection, obviously a fingerprint deterrent and, though I could be dead wrong here, possibly doubling as a thermal vent. It’s not clear from the media snaps whether the flat areas framing the ribbed section will be glossy or matte. [Update: The ribbed section is in fact a sliding cover for discs.]

Interestingly, Sony announced a version with 12 GB of flash memory for Europe that’ll sell for €229 (about $300), which makes me wonder if Sony’s take on Europe is that it’s lagging in the transition from optical to purely digital media. Unless the company’s targeting arcade players — though at €229, it’s hard to imagine how — you’ll jam less than a handful of full PS3 titles into that kind of throwback-sized space.

Why a new PS3 now, with the next PlayStation imminent? Well hold on, who said anything about a new PlayStation? Oh right, the media. And how’s that working out as we head into 2012’s closing months, with not a peep about next-gen consoles (save Nintendo, who announced the Wii U back at E3 2011)?

Sony’s Tokyo Game Show 2012 presser, with not a dash of info about its future system plans, confirms several things about its present ones.

For starters, there’s what Sony Computer Entertainment America CEO and president Jack Tretton has said repeatedly over the years — that Sony thinks in 10-year cycles. The PlayStation 2, which launched in 2000, continued to sell in the millions well after the PlayStation 3 arrived in 2006. While it’s probably stretching to think the company would wait to introduce new technology until 2016, it’s clear at this point that Sony’s in no hurry to roll out a new PlayStation.

(MORE: What if Sony’s So-Called ‘PlayStation Orbis’ Really Does Kill Used Games?)

And why should it? If we’re playing the “who’s most powerful” game, Nintendo’s new Wii U is said to be merely on par with the PS3 and Xbox 360, so any perceived threat from Nintendo is going to be stuff like brand recognition, the appeal of Nintendo’s new controller mechanic and the company’s ability to craft compelling and can’t-get-this-anywhere-else games around the latter. And turning to the Xbox 360, while Microsoft’s outselling Sony by a comfortable spread in the U.S., tally up global console sales and the two companies are neck-and-neck.

Speaking of install base, if you had to split the market with your competition this generation, and only now, six years on, were hitting the sixty-some-million units shipped mark (where your last console had sold over twice that), you’d probably wait to split the market as long as possible. I’m sure that applies to Microsoft’s decision about “when to go,” too. In this late-stage game of chicken, where companies scheme to outwit each other at juggling developer requirements, launch windows, launch titles and platform hardware lock-in, I suspect the guiding principle for both Sony and Microsoft is “delay, delay, delay.”

I don’t think players are really clamoring for new hardware, either. That’s my subjective read, granted, poking around message boards and comments on next-gen console rumor stories, but one that’s grounded in reality: New game systems always sound exciting on paper, but almost never deliver off the block. You’re forking over the most money you’ll pay in the system’s life cycle — $400 to $600 when the PS3 launched — in trade for a handful of games, most of which play more like proof-of-concept demos than the mature, often groundbreaking titles that show up a year or three down the road.

That said, I’m not sure I follow Sony’s logic on the new PS3 model prices — $250 to $300 — but then I haven’t since the PS3 launched with 3DO pricing. Sony seems to think they’re the boutique console maker or something. I can appreciate the way the PS3’s nearly caught up to the Xbox 360 (despite the PS3’s higher price tag and year-behind launch), but judged against the PS2’s sales, the PS3 looks like it’s treading water.

Clearly Sony feels the market isn’t yet saturated, and that the PS3 remains appealing enough to charge what it’s been charging since the first slimline model showed up. The company’s going to up-sell on the extra storage and pack-in games, of course, and to be fair, it’s hard to argue with 250 GB to 500 GB of storage — or games like Uncharted 3 and what certainly looks like it could be the best Assassin’s Creed yet.

Maybe it’s all a setup. Maybe Sony takes us through 2012 and into 2013, announces its next PlayStation, then slashes the pricing on these ultra-slim models, positioning them as “the lower-end buy-in to the PlayStation Platform” (as Gamasutra’s Patrick Miller argues). Maybe Sony’s only going to tease the next PlayStation in 2013 and make us wait until 2014 or even 2015 (hey, we can hope!). Maybe, as Sony suggests, there really are people out there who’ve simply “been looking to add another PS3 to [their] household.”

We’ll see. For both Microsoft and Sony, this holiday season depends more than ever on the usual slew of trendy sequels (most of which aren’t platform exclusives). Microsoft probably has Sony outgunned on an “any one title” scale with Halo 4, but I suspect the lion’s share of this year’s revenue is going to come from multiplatform fare like Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, Assassin’s Creed III, Far Cry 3 and Resident Evil 6.

MORE: Did the PS Vita Show Too Much of Its Game Face at Launch?

17 comments
SeanMackay
SeanMackay

I think that the 12 gig ps3 is designed for people who just use their ps3 for blurays and netflix and a couple of cods. Its just sony understanding what a lot of consumers use them for.

HowardBurroughs
HowardBurroughs

The PS3 is old...PS4 needed with a quad core and fast memory and a newer graphics chip so it can run games much smoother.....If there are many A1s in your game PS3 will slow to a crawl..It does not have enough ram...It is a way outdated system..Sony takes forever to upgrade anything....We have had duo cores and now quad cores and super fast video chips and DDR 5 mem...Sony is stuck in the past ...They hate to spend money to make a new system.....Wake up Sony this is 2012 going on 2013...

ps4site
ps4site

We needs a Pplaystation 4 super graphic revolution

Jojo Dirt
Jojo Dirt

They not make PS 4 720 they keep PS 2 3 360 for ever no need to make new one they keep PS 2 3 360 for life I'm just sick of the rumors so stop plz

Nino Brunori
Nino Brunori

I don't own a PS3 or an XB360.  I still use a PC for gaming which I can not only control the resolution, play native games as well as thousands of games through various emulators. I can also update my hardware and I'm not locked down like a console.

I'm also not slave to DLNA transcoding and that garbage. I double click on a movie and I'm watching it no mater what server or sources as long as I have the proper codecs which are consistently being updated by the community and not when Sony feels like it.

No doubt that this new system plays existing games but what does the new hardware introduce that you can't get in the older version other than being slimmer?

Being tech savvy I can probably surmise that yes it has better hardware and more protections.  I would also surmise that they have closed as many hacking loopholes they know about so you can't hack the firmware anymore to play your backups or whatever they use the PS3 for.

So in essence I would speculate that you are buying a system that everything is in Sony's favor.

Like I said, I don't own one but why would I pay more for an already working mousetrap just because it's thinner and brings nothing significant to the table..

Go to a pawn shop and buy a used one for half the price because after all, it's just a video game system.  How many PS2's, Game Cubes, PS1's, Atari 2600's, Dream Cast's, XBox's and all the rest have I seen at Good Will.  Get a full PC, you can do more with it and your not spending a fortune for 6 year out dated hardware.  At least Nintendo is releasing something new and hopefully this time it will finally play DVD's or Blue Ray.

Olav Alexander Mjelde
Olav Alexander Mjelde

Does anyone know if the 12gb version can be retrofit with a 2.5" drive?

I have the old "fat bastard" with 500gb retrofitted (oem 60GB). It's working and all, but it's quite noisy.. I'd like a less noise edition and I'd imagine that the slimslim has a lower nm on the core, as the slim had upon the fat bastard.

So, yes. I'd pay  $$ for a ps3 that just is silent. Also I must say this slimslim has the looks.. I've had the fat bastard since release date and it's the only hardware piece by my tv that I have yet to swap.. Since I bought the PS3 fat one, I've been through 3 recievers, 3 hdtv tuners, 2 fullhd projectors, and I'm on my 55" LED nr. 2, also I've swapped 5.1 spekers (been up to 7.2 also) three times. Now I'm running 5.2 though with onkyo 4K reciever, scandyna speakers, mirage subwoofers and samsung 55" 8005 led. So, yes.. I'd buy a new PS3 and I can live with less usb ports (have 4 in my current) and I dont need the SACD, PS2 and memory card slot that the fat bastard has. If I can just get more silencio, I will pay 2-300$.. If it has low capacity and I can retrofit a larger drive, no problem.. (As long as you can retrofit it and it doesent have to be external, I hate extra boxes).

I dont know why Sony have yet to make some TV sets with some sort of "hanger" on the rear, so you could hide the PS3 there, hang up some recievers, etc. and suddenly no boxes beneath your set! It would just require some mounting holes in the rear and some hooks for the ps3, etc.

Richard James Frank Martin
Richard James Frank Martin

Amazing design. For playstation gamers world wide, dont sweat it, sales dont mean a better console just means they have been lied to more because all the console say they will change something but it never happens. but its weither you fall for their lies or not and see the bright light to which is really a better console.

want hardcore gaming and family fun just get the ps3 and the wii and your set for life.

AM3RIG
AM3RIG

Aww I wish Sony re-designed PS3 console Super-Slimm PS2 style.

RoyG
RoyG

I think the new slimmer PS3 is made so that is can be profitable  even if they eventually have to cut its price to $150. As an Xbox 360 user I've wanted to get a PS3 for a long time just to play about a dozen or so Sony exclusives such as the Uncharted and Killzone franchises.  But I am not going to shell out $270 bucks just to play a dozen games currently not available for my 360.   I may go for it at the $199 price point and definitely if it come down to $149.  So personally I'll wait until after the holidays to see it if moves downwards.  Other than eagerness to play those dozen games or so, I have no burning need for a PS3.

LAngels15
LAngels15

There's no point of this. Except to make some extra cash before PS4 comes out. I was looking to buy a ps3 anyway, just for the blu-ray player though. So i guess ill buy that uncharted bundle and then sale the games and all that other junk.

Richard James Frank Martin
Richard James Frank Martin

 wow why even buy it then? i bought the ps3 at launch and same with the 360 and about 3 years ago my xbox just got put in a closet and is still sitting there because the graphics are EXACTLY the same and the online is EXACTLY the same but ps3 has had more to offer since the day it released.

and i love this design and its a great idea because now im trading my ps3 in at EB games towards my new Super Slim PS3 with 500gb hdd and Assassin's Creed3.

once last thing i would suggest not selling uncharted because it is listed as the best graphics and best games. Uncharted 1 amp; 2 both won multiple Game Of The Year awards and uncharted 3 won best graphics and best story.

Matt Peckham
Matt Peckham

Welcome to "how to misuse idoms," population me. Thanks Ender. :)

LAngels15
LAngels15

I have an Xbox. Reason why I have one and will keep using it as my #1 system for games is because of friends. Majority of people I know have a 360, also 360 doesn't lag like the PS3. Xbox is much more efficient online. I would keep uncharted but the truth is i won't play it. I just want a Blu-Ray player. If i'm going to by a blu-ray might as well get the ps3.