Last year, Sony celebrated the 20th anniversary of the PlayStation in fine form with a host of promotions and events. A highlight for many fans was the chance to purchase a limited edition PlayStation 4 that was styled to look like the original grey PlayStation from back in the nineties. These system sold out fast — but one was officially made available to the highest bidder as part of a charity auction.
Only 12,300 units of the limited edition console were made, so it was clear that there was going to be some competition to take one home. The systems were sold at a €100 markup on the standard PlayStation 4, taking advantage of the fact that fans would pay almost any sum for the highly collectable console. However, this would seem like a mere drop in the ocean compared to some of the bids made as part of a charity auction.
The first console of the production run, complete with the serial number #00001, went to auction last month. The winning bid was a whopping 15,135,000 yen — which is the equivalent of around $127,000. Those proceeds were meant to go to the Japanese branch of the non-profit organization Save the Children, but the top bidder never paid up.
Thankfully, the story has a happy ending; Sony themselves stepped in and paid the money. With a potential PR disaster avoided, the much-coveted PlayStation 4 will hold pride of place at the company's showroom in Ginza, Tokyo. However, it should be noted that Sony had always planned to match the winning bid with a donation of their own, meaning they got quite a good deal on the console.
In fact, considering that they were planning on shelling out the money anyway, the failure on the part of the highest bidder means that Sony got their console for free — in effect. Even the lucky few in the United Kingdom who managed to grab a limited edition system for £19.94 didn't get as much of a bargain as that.
Still, it's good to see a corporation like Sony trying to do right by a promotion that soon got out of hand. Numerous prank bids were reported to have been submitted throughout the auction, making it difficult to establish which offers were genuine. Chalk this promotion up as a good idea, but perhaps not one that Sony will soon repeat, given the way it turned out in practice.