Xbox 360 prices slashed in Europe

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Microsoft cut the prices of its Xbox 360 video game console in Europe by up to 28% on Monday to try to spur sales in a key battleground in the fast-growing industry.

The 80 euro decrease results in cuts of 18%-28% across the three Xbox 360 models, bringing the cheapest Arcade version to 200 euros ($307) and the high-end Elite to 370 euros ($568).

Prices reductions in Britain range from 20 pounds to 50 pounds.

"Xbox 360 is now mass market in Europe," Chris Lewis, vp of Microsoft's interactive entertainment business in Europe, said.

The reductions come as Sony's PlayStation 3 appears set to capitalize on the company's recent victory in the high-definition DVD battle and on a slew of highly anticipated new games hitting the market this year.

"The PS3 has gained some momentum recently," Kaufman Bros. analyst Todd Mitchell said, "and I think as you go into this summer before the fall, Microsoft has got to do what they can to shore up sales."

This was the second price cut for the Xbox in Europe in less than a year. In August, Microsoft shaved 7% off the euro price of its low-end model and 13% off the main Premium model.

"The tide is kind of turning against the Xbox 360, so Microsoft has to be as aggressive as possible," Mitchell said.

The PlayStation brand has long dominated the European console market, although the PS3 has struggled to win fans because of its high price and lack of must-have games.

In October, in an effort to kick-start sales, Sony introduced a cheaper PS3 model in Europe for 400 euros and cut prices on a high-end version to 500 euros.

Meanwhile, Nintendo is winning customers with its Wii machine that sports unique motion-sensing controls and games that are easier to learn.
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