Pricey PlayStation 3 Could Set You Back Two PS2s

In a radio interview, Sony exec says console could cost north of $600.

Did you hear the one about the PlayStation 3 costing more than $600?

The latest rumblings about the expected high cost of PlayStation 3 still don't provide gamers an exact price tag for Sony's next-gen machine, but they represent the first comments from a Sony official that have numbers attached. And they continue the trend of reports that the high-powered PS3 is likely to be one of the costliest game consoles yet.

Those numbers, according to a French radio interview, have Georges Fornay, a vice president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, stating that a cost of 500 Euros ($611) would be "tres bon marche," or quite reasonable, for a machine that plays next-gen games and utilizes Blu-Ray discs. Blu-Ray is a new disc format, sized to fit high-definition versions of feature films, that Sony hopes will supplant the DVD as the movie and game format of choice.

Early reports on gaming sites pegged Fornay as saying the PS3 would definitely cost at least 500 Euros. But a review of the interview he gave to France's Europe 1 radio revealed that Fornay was responding to a hypothetical question from an interviewer. To further confuse matters, the interviewer asked if the PS3 would cost a rumored $500. Fornay's response repeated that 500 number but referred to it is as being in Euros. Either way, it was an indication that a Sony executive considered a price of $500 — and possibly $611 — as reasonable.

A Sony representative in America could not be reached for further clarification.

Last year, the Xbox 360 made headlines for being the first console since the 1995 Sega Saturn to launch at $400, after a decade of machines, including the PS2, going for about $300 (see "At $400, New Xbox 360 Is Shaping Up To Be Xpensive"). Console prices vary regionally and do tend to be more expensive in Europe. The Xbox 360, for example sells for 399 Euros in France ($489). In the U.S., the system retails for $399.

Fornay's comments are consistent with speculation from accounting firm Merrill Lynch's speculation that the PS3 would be pricey. In February the firm estimated the PS3 would cost as much as $800 to manufacture. While Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony typically take losses on new, advanced gaming hardware in the hopes of recouping costs with the sale of games, such a high manufacturing cost would likely affect the machine's pricing.

Last year, according to gaming news site Gamespot, PlayStation creator Ken Kutaragi told gamemakers and press at a PS3 conference, "I'm not going to reveal its price today. I'm going to only say that it'll be expensive."

Sony is on track to show the first playable PS3 games next month in Los Angeles during the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The system is set to launch in November and is expected to be the most powerful video game console to ever hit the market (see "PlayStation 3 Demo Breaks Gaming Ground; Sony Predicts 'Radical Change' ").