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September 3, 2009

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Microsoft cuts price of Xbox to lift sales

MICROSOFT Corp said yesterday it is cutting the price in Japan for its high-end Xbox 360 game console by 25 percent in a bid to lift demand ahead of the critical year-end shopping season.

The Xbox 360 Elite will now cost 29,800 yen (US$320), down from 39,800 yen. The move was in line with Microsoft's announcement last week that it was slashing the United States price for the Xbox 360 Elite by US$100 to US$299.

"With the price cut, we hope to boost demand for the Xbox game console. The Christmas and year-end shopping season is very important for us," said Joji Sakaguchi, director of Xbox marketing in Japan.

Microsoft is locked in a three-way game console battle with Japanese rivals Nintendo Co and Sony Corp, but sales of Microsoft's Xbox game console are lagging far behind Nintendo's hugely popular Wii home console and Sony's PlayStation.

The Xbox's market share only stands at 9 percent in the Japanese game market, worth 550 billion yen, compared with the Wii's 65 percent. Sony's PlayStation commands a 26 percent market share in Japan.

Microsoft's price cut followed a similar move by Sony, which recently slashed the US price for PlayStation 3 to US$299.

Sakaguchi said he was confident going into the competition during the holiday season with both the Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 now costing US$299 in the US.

During the busy Christmas season, game makers rake in most of their sales in the year.

Ken Kitabayashi, a consultant specializing in the game industry at Nomura Research Institute Ltd, said the discounted prices would likely create new demand.

Nintendo said yesterday that it has no plan to cut the price of the Wii.

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