Microsoft to Launch Cheaper Xbox 360 in Japan

TOKYO -- Microsoft plans 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 November 2, the company said Friday. The console doesn't include several components that are present in the full system, such as a hard-disk drive and a headset, and as a result it will be cheaper. It will cost $256, about half the price of the PlayStation 3.

Initial versions of the core system will also have two popular games bundled with it: PGR 3-Project Gotham Racing 3 and Ninety-Nine Nights (N3). These games and three other titles will also be re-released on the same day under the banner "Xbox 360 Platinum Collection" for about $24--a competitive price compared with games for the rival PlayStation.

Pressure on Sony

That cheaper console could increase pressure on Sony, which seems unlikely to be able to satisfy demand for the PlayStation 3 on its November 11 launch and in the year-end sales period. Earlier this week the company said it would 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 finally becomes available or go for a competing console selling for half the price.

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

Microsoft will continue to sell the Xbox 360 full version--which includes a 20GB hard-disk drive, a wireless controller, a remote control, a high-definition analog cable, and an ethernet cable--for $325.

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