By HANS GREIMEL
The Associated Press
Friday, September 22, 2006; 1:55 AM
TOKYO -- Sony Corp. said Friday it will lower the price of its much-anticipated PlayStation 3 video game console, heating up the competition in the next-generation gaming war against rivals Microsoft and Nintendo.
The announcement comes just days after Microsoft Corp. announced that it would roll out an external high definition DVD player for its Xbox 360 in an effort to match the PlayStation 3, due to be released in November with its own Blu-ray DVD technology.
Sony Computer Entertainment President Ken Kutaragi, speaking at the Tokyo Game Show in Makuhari, just east of Tokyo, said the move was in response to consumer complaints the upcoming console was too pricey.
Sony will cut the price of its basic PlayStation 3 model in Japan to 47,600 yen ($410), from an originally planned 59,800 yen ($515). That puts the PlayStation 3 in the same range as the combined basic Xbox 360 and HD DVD player in Japan, where the duo will sell for 49,600 yen ($427).
In Japan, the PlayStation 3 will hit stores on Nov. 11 and in the United States on Nov. 17. Sony spokeswoman Nanako Kato said there were no plans to lower the price in other markets.
The PlayStation 3 launch, initially planned for earlier this year, has been postponed twice. Sony now expects to ship only 2 million units by year's end instead of 4 million as originally planned.
Earlier this month, Tokyo-based Sony said it would delay the European release by four months until March.
The announcement could give the PlayStation 3 a badly needed boost in Sony's home market at a time of embarrassing delays for the highly anticipated upgrade. Rival Nintendo is also scheduled to release its next-generation Wii gaming system by year's end, while Xbox 360 has been selling in Japan since December 2005.
The price cut affects the basic PlayStation 3 model, which comes with a 20 gigabyte hard drive. Another upscale version of the PlayStation 3 will have a 60 gigabyte hard drive, but Sony is leaving its pricing to retailers.
Xbox 360 was rushed to market last year to get a headstart on its rivals, but it has seen sluggish sales in Japan, which is one of the world's biggest video game markets but one in which players have a deep loyalty to homegrown Sony.
U.S.-based Microsoft's decision to launch an HD DVD peripheral in Japan on Nov. 22, based on a rival format to Sony's Blu-ray, is seen as one attempt to eat into that base. The basic Xbox 360 doesn't come with any high-definition DVD capability.
Nintendo said last week its new Wii game console will arrive on schedule in the final quarter of the year, priced below both rivals, the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3.