Despite years of redesigns and price reductions, the cost of new Sony PlayStation 3 is still just a bit too much for some people. Eager to combat that, Sony is about to launch a new cheaper model of PS3 in North America as early as next week if Engadget is to be believed. Soon you'll be able to pick up a new PS3 for just $199.99, but there's a catch: the onboard storage is a mere 12 GB of flash memory. Nintendo offers a Wii U model with more storage than that. That capacity will get you, what, one or two full retail releases in digital form (if they're small) or a small handful of modestly sized download-only games like Mega Man 10 or DuckTales: Remastered. An after-market hard drive can be purchased separately and installed as a quick do-it-yourself project to increase the storage capacity of the console.
It seems rather pointless to me to offer this model in North America (it's been around overseas for a while now), but I suppose Sony wants to be able to advertise the PS3 as "starting at $199.99" during the madness of the holiday shopping season. $200 seems reasonable for a PS3 if $400 for a PlayStation 4 is too much money (never mind the $500 Microsoft Xbox One) and it undercuts the Wii U in all its forms. What's really baffling is that an extra $70 will get you a new PS3 with a 500 GB hard drive and a pack-in copy of Grand Theft Auto V. If you're in the market for a PS3, surely you can come up with the extra money for that package. If you factor in the cost of the game, you're basically getting a massive hard drive boost for an extra $10. It's difficult to justify buying the lesser model with that bundle out there. Basically, it sounds like Sony has created its own version of the Wii Mini by removing one of the console's key features in the name of price tag bragging rights.