The video game price wars are getting fiercer. Microsoft on Thursday announced plans to lower the price of its top-line Xbox 360 model from $399 to $299.
The move comes nine days after Sony lowered the price of the PlayStation 3 to $299 and introduced a new, slimmer model of the video game console. The price cut will go into effect Friday morning.
The move, which was widely expected, puts the Xbox 360 Elite (which comes with a 120 GB hard drive) on even footing with the PS3. Microsoft will continue to sell its low-end Xbox 360 Arcade unit for $199, the lowest price of any current generation console.
Going away is the mid-range Xbox 360 Pro. Microsoft opted to discontinue the third version of the Xbox 360 and will be selling remaining models for $249 (a $50 discount from the current price) until the inventory is depleted.
While Microsoft representatives insisted the timing of this announcement was planned long ago, the move conveniently comes just days before the redesigned PlayStation 3 is officially set to hit store shelves. But many retailers have already begun selling the new PS3, which could lessen the impact of the news.
Microsoft cut prices last September and has since reaped the benefits of that move. Xbox 360 sales are up 17 percent in 2009, the only console hardware to see a sales increase.