Nintendo Cuts Wii Prices

TOKYO (AP) -- Nintendo is slashing the price of its popular Wii game console in Japan and the U.S. by 20 percent, part of a global strategy by game companies to spur sales ahead of the crucial year-end shopping season. Sony also announced a price cut.

In Japan, the Wii's price will be cut to 20,000 yen ($220) from 25,000 yen starting Oct. 1, the company said Thursday. In the U.S. the day before, Nintendo said the console's price will be lowered by $50 on Sunday to $200.

Prices in Europe were also expected to be lowered by about the same amount.

Hours after Nintendo's announcement, Sony Corp. announced a price cut in Japan for its PlayStation Portable model called PSP-3000 by 15 percent to 16,800 yen ($190) from 19,800 yen ($220), starting Oct. 1. The price had already been cut in the U.S. to $169.

The latest reductions follows similar moves by Sony for its home console PlayStation 3, as well as by Microsoft Corp., which makes the Xbox 360.

Console price cuts are customary for the video game industry after the systems have celebrated a birthday or two, because they help lure in mass audiences who don't want to spend large chunks of cash on them.

With the latest round of price cuts, Nintendo Wii, the best-selling home console, maintains a price edge over its rivals on home machines. But PSP-3000 will be cheaper than Nintendo's DSi, at 18,900 yen ($210) in Japan and about $170 in the U.S.

Sony said in August it would cut the price in Japan for its popular PlayStation 3 to 29,980 yen ($330). U.S.-based Microsoft said last month it was cutting the Japanese price for its high-end Xbox 360 game console by 25 percent to 29,800 yen ($330).

Nintendo had earlier said it had no plan to slash the price for the Wii. But company spokesman Ken Toyoda said the company hoped to "spur sales" with cheaper Wii consoles.

"With the price cuts both in Japan and the United States, we want to spur sales during the upcoming year-end shopping seasons," Toyoda said.

The global recession has made price cuts important, especially as game companies gear up for the holiday shopping season, when the video game industry makes most of its money. Without the price cuts, it would be difficult to entice budget-conscious shoppers to buy the machines.

The Wii, whose game control senses motions without having to rely solely on buttons and levers, is the top selling console worldwide. Launched in 2006, Nintendo's Wii has sold more than 52 million units worldwide so far, outselling the PS3 and Xbox 360.

In Japan, the Wii controls 65 percent of the game market, worth 550 billion yen, according to data from Tokai Tokyo Securities Co. Ltd. Sony's PlayStation has 26 percent of the market, followed by 9 percent for Microsoft's Xbox.

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