The new, slimmer PS3 comes in two forms in the US, 250GB for $270 and 500GB for $300. Europe gets the 500GB model and a 12GB Flash-based system. All of these consoles support Flash storage expansion via USB, and the US version allows internal HDD replacement.
The US gets two larger systems because its consumers demand more "out of the box," according to SCEA VP of marketing, handhelds and home consoles John Koller, speaking to Engadget.
"The smaller Flash drive isn't coming to North America, and a lot of that reason is the digital consumer," Koller says. "We really want to make sure, out of the box, that there is an option for them to be able to download that content. That is really critical for us, very very important."
Nintendo is taking a different approach to storage with the Wii U, launching 8GB and 32GB models with the ability to easily attach any form of external storage, even "a full-on three terabyte hard drive," says Nintendo America CEO and president Reggie Fils-Aime.
"The reason we did it that way is that the cost of that type of storage memory is plummeting," Fils-Aime continues. "What we didn't want to do is tie a profit model to something that's gonna rapidly decline over time. We'll let the consumer buy as much as they want, as cheaply as they want."
Sony sees US consumers are more willing to buy a new console with a larger hard drive than to purchase external storage.
"When you look at some of the earlier chassis, and the really early adopters – the 20GB, and the 60GB – that consumer had a choice," Koller says. "They could either go out and buy another hard drive – and it's an easy install, so we make it easy for the consumer if they want to take a hard drive off the shelf and plug it in, they can do that. They had a choice of doing that, or purchasing another PlayStation 3. And what's been happening is we're seeing a lot of adoption of second consoles in-house."
Besides, Sony doesn't make any money if you buy a Western Digital hard drive. But neither does Nintendo.
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