updated 10/22/2007 9:57:52 AM ET 2007-10-22T13:57:52

Microsoft is slashing Xbox 360 prices in Japan by about 13 percent as the price war among video game consoles heats up around the world ahead of the key year-end shopping season.

The Xbox 360 console will sell in Japan for $304 beginning Nov. 1, down from $348, the U.S. software maker's Japan unit said Monday in a statement.

A more basic version of the machine now selling for $261 will go for $243, according to Microsoft Corp.

( is a Microsoft-NBC Universal joint venture.)

Last week, Sony Corp. cut the price of its PlayStation 3 game console in the U.S. It had already announced similar price cuts in Europe and Japan.

The top-line PlayStation model, with an 80 gigabyte hard drive, now costs $499 in the U.S., down from $599. That effectively eliminates the lower-end model, which has a 60-gigabyte drive and sold for $499. A new low-end model with a 40-gigabyte drive will go on sale Nov. 2 for $399.

The big winner in game consoles recently has been Nintendo Co. with its Wii machine, which has a wandlike remote.

Nintendo, the Kyoto-based manufacturer of Pokemon and Super Mario games, has not announced any price cuts for the Wii, which is already cheaper than Xbox 36o or PS3.

The Wii now sells for $250 in the U.S. and $219 in Japan. The Xbox 360 costs $350 in the U.S.

Nintendo has chosen a different strategy from Sony and Microsoft, with their more expensive machines, and has been trying to woo novices with brain teasers, sport games and virtual pets, instead of the usual shooter and role-playing games.

Since Wii went on sale late last year, Nintendo has shipped 9.3 million units around the world, with supplies barely keeping up with demand. By the end of this fiscal year in March 2008, Wii global shipments are expected to reach 22.3 million.

So far, Sony has sold 5 million PlayStation 3s. The game console went on sale late last year in Japan and the U.S. and in March in Europe.

Microsoft has sold 11.6 million Xbox 360 machines in the last two years.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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