This week in gaming

Half the biggest game makers attending E for All
Despite rumours suggesting otherwise, EA has been confirmed for the upcoming E for All gaming expo in addition to Nintendo, Namco, THQ, Konami. Currently, Sony, Capcom, Sega and Microsoft have no plans to attend.

“We have over 50 exhibitors, including Nintendo, Namco, THQ, Konami, EA and other major companies to be announced shortly,” said E for All representative Carolyn Rauch in an email to GamePro. “This is a group of companies that sold about half of all the games purchased in the U.S. last year.”

Regarding the lack of current participation from Sony, Capcom, Sega and Microsoft, Rauch remained confident stating that the expo would continue discussions with the publishers to explore ways in which they could participate.

She also noted the differences between the consumer-oriented E for All and the trade show atmosphere of E3.

“Gamers should be excited because this event is all about them — from a terrific line up of the newest games from the industry’s leading publishers, to the World Series of Video Games tournament and Video Games Live concert.”

The full schedule of events and exhibitors for the October 18-21 expo has yet to be finalized. Attendee prices rage from US$45 for two day admittance to $90 for the full four days.

PR boss quits Sony
Sony Computer Entertainment America head of public relations, Dave Karraker, announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving the company effective Sept. 7 after just one year. Analyst Michael Pachter says the executive will be missed during what he calls a “difficult holiday” for the PS3.

Karraker called the decision “very difficult” having been presented with a promotion closer to home in an industry he had previously worked in.

“I have enjoyed immensely my tenure at SCEA and think the company and its brands are very well positioned to have an exceptional holiday and a very bright future,” he wrote in an email to the media. “I look forward to continuing to follow this industry as a gamer, rather than a spokesperson.”

Analyst Michael Pachter called the outgoing public relations director a “a steady contact in a volatile industry.”

Karraker played a key role in helping Sony brave the public relation waters of a tumultuous PS3 launch year by making himself readily available to both traditional and new media outlets.

“The other PR people at Sony are quite competent, but it would help to strengthen the team with someone as good as Dave to handle the schizophrenic press over the next 6 months,” Pachter told us.

“I think Sony will have a difficult holiday with only a handful of exclusive games and a pricing disadvantage against Microsoft and Nintendo,” he added. “But I expect things to get better in spring with the release of Grand Theft Auto 4, Gran Turismo 5, and Metal Gear Solid 4.”

PS3 price drop expected

Analysts maintain that Sony will drop the price of the 80GB PS3 to US$499 once retail supply of the discontinued 60GB model depletes; an announcement could come at the Tokyo Game Show later this month.

“We note that Sony recently acknowledged that it will no longer produce its 60Gb PS3, and we expect the price of the 80Gb PS3 to be reduced to $499 before the holidays,” said analyst Michael Pachter after it was revealed that Sony’s internal supply of 60GB had run dry.

Analyst Jesse Divnich agrees.

“To remain competitive against the other consoles, the Sony PS3 would have to reduce its 80GB SKU by $100 down to $499. Other options, besides a price drop, could be the bundling of more free software titles, which has always been a popular option during the Holiday season,” he said.

In addition to the anticipated 80GB price reduction, Pachter remarked that a second PS3 price cut could come as early as next year. The move may be needed to better compete with Microsoft’s Xbox 360 which is expected to outsell the PS3 by a factor of 2 to 1 this holiday.

“We are confident that through the coming months, Sony will make the correct decisions to prevent the gap between the PS3 and the Xbox 360 to widen,” Divnich optimistically added.

If a price cut is in the cards for the PS3, a likely time to announce a concession would be at the Tokyo Game Show later this month.

– Content provided by GamePro staff

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