Over the past few months rumors of a slimmer, cheaper PlayStation 3 variant console have been surfacing. Sony has repeatedly stated that a new PS3 is not in the cards, yet most agree that the strong surge of evidence stands against that.
Understanding that the secrecy for a new product is vital to maintain current sales — if a newer, cheaper model was announced PS3 sales would probably drop off considerably until its release — there have been substantial “oopsy” moments that suggest the new PS3 would arrive shortly.
Sounds like a case of a leaky pipe, right?
Perhaps. But then again perhaps there is a concerted effort by Sony to manufacture these leaks under some viral marketing. We’ve certainly seen some epic viral campaigns in the past (I love Bees, or the Halo 3 UFO sightings) and in this article I’ve cited instances and all-to-coincidental similarities that suggest that this possible marketing move might be a smart one.
What do we think we know?
Since the first rumors of a PS3 Slim broke over the last year (yes, it’s been that long) nothing concrete has emerged to give us a real thumbs up that a new system was in the works. What have come up have been rumors, blurry photographs, and patent & trademark applications. The following list details what we’ve heard thus far.
Rumor: PS3 price cut?
While price cuts are inevitable for any product, Sony has been staunch to say that they would ever cut the price of the PS3 beyond the level it currently resides at, mainly due to the still-high manufacturing costs of including Blu Ray and Cell processors, as well as HDDs and so on. What may happen is a modified PS3, with some of its innards removed, to bring the price down. This happened with the PS2 when the “slim” model was released, as well as the DSi and the upcoming PSPgo. Remove and (usually) make cheaper.
Rumor: PS2 software emulation?
When PS2 backwards compatibility was removed from the PS3 with the latest 80- and 160-gb SKUs, Sony seemed to have abandoned it all together. However as recently as late June a patent for software-emulated PS2 games by Sony was uncovered, possibly leaning towards bringing the previous gen’s games to the PS3. While this may be a simple firmware upgrade for the system, launching an all-new (and cheaper) PS3 with PS2 compatibility would be a great selling point and one that fans have been craving.
Rumor: PS3 Slim console & box
Back in late May, just before E3 rolled in, we were treated to several “leaked” images of a PS3. These images showcased what appeared to be the plastic body of the PS3 “slim” while being assembled in a Chinese factory. The images even contained the system’s packaging (which we’ll get to later) and details of the inputs and USB slots. While these types of leaks are nothing new (Apple has seen their fair share of iPhone leaks over the years) Sony went ahead and issues a cease and desist order to have the images removed from websites, almost as if to draw further attention to them. In the past when purported product images were leaked Sony never asked them to be taken down, no matter how fake or real they were. Like getting our attention much, Sony?
Rumor: PS3 branding
When the packaging image of the PS3 Slim came out (right image), we mocked it as being obviously a fake. Then Sony revealed the PSPgo’s official packaging (on the left) and we couldn’t help but notice the similarities: horizontal band, location of logos and icons, and a logo touting the system as a “PS3″ instead of “PlayStation 3″, similar to the “PlayStation Portable” being branded the “PSP”. Now, even though there are definitely differences — the new PS3 font is softer and more bubbly than the PSP font, for instance — it would be nearly impossible for a person playing an elaborate prank to have guessed the PSPgo packaging and created a new PS3 package around it. This coincidence is all too eerie. In fact, the PS3 Slim packaging may have been created prior to the PSPgo’s, and used specifically to get the viral ball rolling until it was further developed and finalized for the new PSP.
Rumor: PS3 Slim caught on video?
[Updated video thanks to Spider]
Just a week ago now some footage reportedly of the PS3 Slim “in the wild” in Asia was uploaded to the web. Spreading like wildfire, the grainy footage of the PS3 seams less plausible than Big Foot, yet carries all of the characteristics of the previously leaked images. How can some travelers just “happen” to find a PS3 in a shop, before Sony even reveals its existence? And, how come there have not been more (and better quality) videos of the PS3 Slim since then?
Now, why would Sony create a viral marketing campaign when E3 was a viable place to showcase a new PS3? To put it plainly: unless a new PS3 were to launch relatively soon after an announcement it could force consumers to hold off on their console purchases until then. Since the first major rumors dropped in May there has been a regular flow of leaks and hints to keep our minds prepared for a new system, yet not enough to deter potential buyers. Some recent rumors suggest the PS3 Slim will come in August with the latest Madden game. However, a new Madden doesn’t carry the same weight as it used to and would hardly be a system seller, especially with the game being released in just a couple short weeks. A more plausible answer would be to debut the Slim at Tokyo Game Show for an Autumn/Holiday release, positioning it along with Uncharted 2 as Sony’s major releases for the remainder of the year.
Whatever the case may be, the PS3 Slim will remain an enigma of modern gaming until it is actually released. Whether an elaborate viral marketing campaign or an episode of Punk’d that has spiraled out of control, the buzz for a new PS3 is strong… whether Sony wants it to be or not.