Microsoft cuts Xbox price in North America, Japan

Microsoft cut the price of its Xbox game console by about a third in the U.S. and Canada and announced a similar price cut for Japan Wednesday.

The move had been expected by market watchers and comes on the heels of Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.'s price reduction for the PlayStation 2 on Tuesday. Effective immediately, Xbox consoles will cost US$199.99 in the U.S., down from $299.99. In Canada the device will retail for C$299.99 (US$192), down from C$459.99, Microsoft said in a statement. Xbox, Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s GameCube now all cost about $200 in the U.S.

In Japan, where Xbox sales have been sluggish since its launch late February, the Xbox will be cut to ¥24.800 ($193) from ¥34.800 effective May 22, Microsoft said.

Europe and Australia were the cheapest places to pick up an Xbox following price cuts there last month. However those continents are now the most expensive places to buy an Xbox. In mainland Europe the suggested retail price for the Microsoft console is €299 ($269), in the U.K. £199 ($288) and A$399 ($218) in Australia. Microsoft now expects to ship between 3.5 million and 4 million Xbox consoles in its fiscal year ending June 30. About 1.5 million consoles were sold in the U.S. in the first weeks after the introduction six months ago. The Redmond, Washington, company will start a multimillion dollar advertising and merchandising campaign in the U.S. this weekend to support sales.

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