Microsoft unveils core 360 PGR3, 99 Nights bundle...in Japan

Battle of the boxes heats up in Nippon as Microsoft offers cheaper, hard-driveless model across with two games for $255.

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Microsoft Japan today took steps to bolster its foothold in the Japan marketplace by announcing it is bringing the cheaper Xbox 360 to the country. The new model will go for 29,800 yen ($255), $85 less than the current 39,785 (around $340) premium model.

Microsoft is playing up the move as a price drop, since previously there was only one 360 package available in Japan. Unlike other regions where Microsoft sold two different models--one with a hard drive and one without--the Nippon marketplace has only offered the single hard drive-equipped premium model, which costs $399 in the US.

Microsoft is offering the HDD-less 360 core package for around $44 less than the Xbox core package offered in the US. However, it is sweetening the pot even more by bundling the console with two titles from Microsoft Game Studios: the critically lauded Project Gotham Racing 3 and the not-so-acclaimed Ninety-Nine Nights.

While appealing, the new Xbox 360 bundle will need to attract many new customers if the platform is going to catch up in Japan. According to Reuters, only 158,654 Xbox 360 units have been sold in the country to date. That forms a tiny percentage of the 5 million units that have been sold worldwide through June. By contrast, NPD reports that some 2.4 million Xbox 360s have been sold in the US as of the end of August.

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