The big news today didn't involve the PlayStation 3; it involved Microsoft's announcement of a new – and not necessarily cheaper – Xbox 360 offer.
It's reminiscent of how cell phones are sold, in that the consumer will pay $99 for the 360 console that comes with a 4GB hard drive and the motion sensing system, Kinect. But it's only a hundred bucks if customers commit to a two-year Xbox Live Gold subscription…yeah, reminds me a lot of getting my phone for free when signing up for the two-year data plan.
Now, you're really not saving much of anything; in fact, you're not really saving at all. But consumers aren't always the sharpest cutlasses on the rack; most will only see that $99 price tag and not add up the actual cost (and compare it to paying for everything separately). See, I know my "free" $600 phone would end up costing me more than that with the $30/month plan, and that's without the insurance. But hey, it works, right? I got the damn thing, didn't I? The standard rule of commercialism and capitalism is that in truth, you don't get anything for free.
So the question is whether or not Sony should follow suit. Maybe this is a better option than a price cut. A price cut might actually hurt initially, but this way, you're only sorta fibbing to the consumer in the interest of driving sales. It's a common tactic. Yes, there are early cancellation penalties in place for this $99 360/Live deal ($250 to cancel in the first three months, down to $12 in the 23rd month). And Sony could do exactly the same thing; toss in Move, require a Plus subscription, and sell the PS3 for $99.