Microsoft to Launch Cheaper Xbox 360 in Japan

Microsoft is planning to launch a cheaper version of its Xbox 360 games console in Japan a week before the PlayStation 3 is due on sale.

The Xbox 360 core system, which is already on sale in other markets, will go on sale in Japan on Nov. 2, the company said Friday. The console doesn’t include several components present in the full system, including a hard-disk drive and headset, and as a result is cheaper. It will cost 29,800 yen (US$256), which is half the price of the PlayStation 3.

Initial versions of the core system will also be bundled with two popular games: "PGR 3—Project Gotham Racing 3" and "Ninety-Nine Nights (N3)." These games and three other titles will also be rereleased on the same day under the banner "Xbox 360 Platinum Collection" for 2,800 yen—a competitive price compared to games for the rival PlayStation.

That cheaper console could increase pressure on Sony, which is looking unlikely to be able to satisfy demand for the PlayStation 3 on its Nov. 11 launch and in the year-end sales period. Earlier this week, the company said it will have 100,000 units of the PlayStation 3 shipped to retailers for the launch.

Based on previous PlayStation launches, that’s sure to be far below consumer demand, so consumers will have to decide whether to wait until a PlayStation 3 becomes available or go for a competing console for half the price.

Nintendo’s launch of its Wii console will fuel the competition in the Japan market. That system is due on sale sometime between October and December and is expected to cost about the same as the Xbox 360 core system.

Microsoft will continue to sell the Xbox 360 full version, which also includes a 20GB hard-disk drive, wireless controller, remote control, high-definition analog cable and Ethernet cable, for 37,900 yen.

-Martyn Williams, IDG News Service (Tokyo Bureau)

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