Wednesday 7 February 2007
HMV will no longer require that customers wanting to pre-order a PS3 purchase a PSP at the same time, GamesRadar has learned. The PS3-plus-PSP bundle was previously the only pre-order option made available through HMV's online store, and came to a total cost of nearly £700.
"We are aware of the mixed reaction to the PS3/PSP bundle," Gennaro Castaldo, head of Press and PR for HMV, told us, explaining that HMV is "now in a position to revise the online offer" having managed to confirm its "stock position". "We will be writing imminently to all customers who indicated that they wished to make the dual purchase, to advise them that they can now pre-order a PS3 by itself."
GamesRadar spoke to several other major retailers about PS3 pre-orders, and quizzed them on what their plans were for the console. "Every retailer will have a different spin on PS3," we were told by Stephen Lynn, senior PR manager at Virgin Megastore, commenting that while HMV must surely have a "sound rationale" for its mega-bundle, "£425 is a lot of money [for the standalone PS3]" anyway, and "do people have £700 to spend?".
Lynn told us that you can pre-order a standalone PS3 from Virgin without being asked to buy further items, with a £50 deposit, although "there will be a number of different offers from Virgin," presumably once the hardware is in better supply. Virgin is monitoring the number of orders it takes, and will stop the pre-order system once it reaches the limits of its initial allocation of consoles - although Sony has yet to offer anything but a rough idea of what that might be.
In fact HMV is the only retailer that admits to having more than a guesstimate on exactly how many consoles it will have to sell. Both Amazon and GAME are waiting for confirmed numbers before accepting orders, with Amazon planning on a similar set-up to its Wii pre-order system. You remember - the mad webdash that crushed Amazon under seven minutes of server strain last November.
"This will ensure that anyone who pre-orders on Amazon.co.uk will receive the console on release, with no customers left disappointed," the online megastore told us, adding that "further announcements on the process for pre-ordering PS3 with Amazon.co.uk will be made shortly".
Meanwhile Play.com has been offering pre-orders since last May - so it's probably not the best place for latecomers to sign up. Play is offering a three-game bundle priced at £549.99 which contains F1, Genji and Resistance. Gian Luzio, head of games for Play.com, said "we feel the game bundle offers a breadth of gaming choices, something for everyone. When you buy a console you want games too, don't you?". Well, of course we do. But we'd rather choose our own games, instead of being saddled with the 6/10 Genji, cheers.
Gamestation also offered pre-orders before Sony delayed PS3 in the UK, although it has yet to re-open the service. "Once we have a better idea of allocation we will then commence pre-orders," said Anna Downing, senior product manager, explaining that Gamestation is reluctant to offer pre-orders before it can provide "accurate information" to customers about when they'll receive their PS3. Though it expects "a small but steady supply of consoles throughout 2007" in case you miss the first wave.
Clearly, the majority of retailers aren't comfortable with taking pre-orders before they're sure of the quantity of PS3s they'll be getting. And with just 220,000 consoles predicted for the March launch, your best bet is to order one as soon as you possibly can. On the bright side, though, if Sony manage to keep the supply pipes flowing - just like it did in the US - then you ought to be able to hunt down a spare console soon after the launch party has died down.
Check the next page for a quick rundown on the pre-order possibilities from each company.