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PlayStation3 consoles to sell for $499 -- will it be game over?

LOS ANGELES -- The buzz at the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo usually surrounds the newest video games.

This year, the hot topic isn't a sneak peek at ''Halo 3" or ''Metal Gear Solid 4" but a price tag -- namely, the $499 and $599 that Sony Corp. said it will ask for its eagerly awaited, next-generation PlayStation3 gaming consoles when they hit retail shelves around the world Nov. 17.

Analysts and industry experts attending this week's E3 show said they aren't surprised by the price. The PS3 does, after all, include a Blu-ray optical drive for playing high-definition movies. The current crop of stand-alone Blu-ray players retail for around $1,000.

But at $599, is Sony pushing -- or perhaps even crossing -- the line on what consumers will be willing to pay for games?

The console price doesn't even consider the additional cost of the actual games. Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 raised the average price per game from $50 to $60. Sony hasn't said how much PS3 games will cost.

Only 11 percent of the 1,046 gamers in a national AP-AOL Games telephone poll last month reported spending more than $500 last year on gaming, including consoles, game software, online charges, and accessories.

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