Sony is Watching

Sony’s crusade against UK PSP importers continues with the news that they’re now after a list of consumers who bought import machines. They say it’s to do with trademarks and lost revenue, but I can’t remember a more blatant attempt to rip off the British gaming public than the PSP.

Why is it that we have to wait until almost a year after Japan and six months after the US, and pay a hell of a lot more for the privilege? The Japanese pay ¥19,800 (£99.49), the Americans complained that it was too expensive at $249 (£136.66), and so Sony sell it to us at £180 (not even counting the fact that ours will be made in Taiwan by people getting 10p/hour as opposed to the Japanese ones which are actually made in Japan). I know we pay more tax than they do, but not that much more. It’s daylight robbery when importers can bring them over themselves, add their sizable cut on top, and sell it for only £10 more than that. Is it any surprise that people are importing in such huge numbers?

If the price wasn’t insulting enough, it’s the same hardware as everywhere else. They don’t need to go out of their way to make a special PAL version just for us. Hell, they don’t even need to manufacture enough to meet demand since so we’ve all seen them on the shelves of American stores as sales fail to meet projections. They have stock there that can be flashed with UK firmware and put on the next flight here, and they’ve had it for months. There are plenty for the American and Japanese, and most import outlets here have sold hundreds each – more than they’re likely to even see on the UK launch.

As for the lost revenue argument, we all know that the current model within the industry is to sell the console at a loss and then make it up on £40-a-time software sales. Maybe I’m missing something here, but doesn’t the current model mean that SCEJ/SCEA are the ones who take that loss, and then when it comes out here SCEE are left to clean up, making pure profit off those importing early adopters who prefer the convenience of popping down to Game for the new release instead of ordering online and waiting for it to come halfway around the world. That seems like a pretty cushy situation, but apparently they prefer to take the loss. This suggests to me that the price has been bumped up over here simply for the sake of lining their pockets.

Perhaps Sony would also be interested to know that I know of at least three Sony sales reps who own imported PSPs. Maybe they should ask them why people are importing.

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