Pachter: $299 PS3 due in April, $249 360 in June

Wedbush Morgan's game-industry wise man forecasts tit-for-tat price cuts from Sony, Microsoft in weeks leading up to E3; $2.62 billion in December software sales forecast.

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Shortly after EEDAR's Jesse Divinch weighed in with his forecast of NPD Group's December game sales--expected this Thursday--another game-industry wise man stepped up to the plate. Wedbush Morgan's oft-quoted Michael Pachter nearly concurs with his peer, predicting that more than 3.25 million Wiis were sold domestically during the month, followed by 1.35 million Xbox 360s and 750,000 PlayStation 3s.

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Software-wise, Pachter thinks that December saw a 10 percent rise in monthly US software sales, from $2.39 billion in 2007 to $2.63 billion in 2009. He believes the top games of the month were (in no particular order) Guitar Hero World Tour, Call of Duty: World at War, Gears of War 2, Rock Band 2, Wii Fit, and Prince of Persia. Though the NPD numbers cover only console games, he also doffed his hat to the wildly popular PC expansion pack World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

By the analyst's estimate, $2.42 billion of US game software sales were for the PS3, Wii, 360, PSP and DS, with the remaining $205 million coming from games for legacy systems. He thinks that PlayStation 2 game sales will continue to fall by roughly half each month, having slid 51 percent year-on-year in November and an estimated 54 percent year-on-year in December.

Although his comments on the PlayStation 2 were noteworthy, it's Pachter's predictions for the PlayStation 3 that will likely pique gamers' interest. The financial veteran believes that, after being relegated to third place in the console race by the 360's $199 price drop in September, the 80GB PS3 base model will be cut from $399 to $299 in April.

He also believes that, wishing to maintain momentum, Microsoft will follow suit, knocking $50 off of its 60GB 360 Pro model around the time of the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo, which runs from June 2-4. Pachter expects no price cut for the Wii until the holiday season--if there is one at all--due to still-record-high demand for the console.

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