Friday, March 24, 2006

PlayStation 3 to ship region free!

From Engadget comes news that the PlayStation 3 will ship region free. This is a very significant move as Sony has long been resisting such moves. It signals the game and DVD region coding may finally be coming to an end.

The interesting question is: why now? Region coding allows Sony to price discriminate. Of course, there are currently work arounds. For games, in Australia, it is legal to modify consoles to play games from any region. A few weeks back, a committee of the House of Representatives endorsed those opportunities even if they pose piracy risks (see my earlier post on this). Thus, Sony's move would shut this down along with piracy risks associated with current practices.

But the other side of the coin is that, when it comes down to it, the price differentials that Sony might want are not that much different from the shipping and transaction costs associated with international purchases of games. Thus, Sony can utilise price discrimination to some degree anyway. This move will constrain them but perhaps they were already constrained.

Anyhow, the news today aside, it will be interesting to see how this all really pans out once PlayStation 3 is launched.

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