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Cheap Xbox 360 to hijack PS3 launch?

Microsoft drops console's price 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 2 November, the company said today. 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 (about £140), which is half the price of the PlayStation 3.

Initial versions of the Core system will also be bundled with two popular games: Project Gotham Racing 3 and Ninety-Nine Nights. These games and three other titles will also be re-released on the same day under the banner Xbox 360 Platinum Collection for ¥2,800 (£13), a competitive price compared with games for the rival console.

That cheaper console could increase pressure on Sony, which is looking unlikely to be able to satisfy demand for the PlayStation 3 on its 11 November launch and throughout the end-of-year 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 launch of its Wii console will fuel competition in the Japan market. That system is due on sale some time 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 also includes a 20GB hard-disk drive, wireless controller, remote control, high-definition analogue cable and ethernet cable, for ¥37,900 (£175).

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