By James Wells

SYDNEY: Sony Computer Entertainment Australia has confirmed it will maintain the current price of its PlayStation2 (PS2) console at $249.95, even though the price of the console has decreased in North America from $US149 to $US129.

"We’re holding strong on the price in Australia," Sony Computer Entertainment spokesperson, Adrian Christie, told

Australia has joined the UK, who has left the price of their consoles at £104.99.

"In our market the current value is in the software space, where you will find Platinum Series games and new launch titles that have never been at more affordable prices," Christie said.

Platinum Series games, which are the best selling PlayStation2 games chosen for their quality, value and long-lasting gameplay, are now selling for $29.95. New release titles are now priced at $79.95, which were re-positioned last month from the Christmas 2005 mark of $99.95.

The US price reduction is designed to provide that market with more sales volume of the PS2 console prior to the introduction of the PS3 console in November. Like the original PlayStation console, which Sony only recently ceased manufacturing, the PS2 is expected to sell long after the launch of the PS3 to target less-affluent consumers.

PlayStation2 has sold over 101 million units since its global launch in March 2000. Microsoft, who recently launched the Xbox 360 console in Australia, sold 24 million of its original Xbox console, while Nintendo has sold 21 million GameCubes.

Sony last cut the price of the PS2 from $US179 to $US149 in June 2004.

"While we continue to innovate and design groundbreaking new products, we remain dedicated to our long-term vision for the PlayStation2 platform," said Sony Computer Entertainment America president and CEO, Kaz Hirai, in a statement.

Market analysts recently predicted the price drop as Sony prepares for the crucial E3 video games trade show in Los Angeles next month. Microsoft is expected to react to the move by dropping the price of its console from $US149.

Analysts claim that Microsoft still loses money on each Xbox sold and some even believe that the company has stopped making the original system. Estimates of Microsoft’s price drop are as low as $US99 to clear inventory.

North American retailers have been looking forward to a decrease in the price of the PS2 as sales of software have been steadily declining. Year on year declines in software sales were 13 per cent in February and eight per cent in March.