Price cut boosts Xbox 360; will others follow?

Last week, we told you about a big price cut for Microsoft's Xbox 360 game console. The unit was cut $50 to $80, depending on the model. The cheapest Xbox 360 is now $199. It's the first time any of the so-called “next-gen” game systems (360, Wii, PS3) has been below $200.

Last week, Microsoft happily announced that retailers had seen a 100 percent surge in sales. Buy.com's “What's Shakin'” section, which tracks daily sales of entertainment products, ranked the 360 No. 3 overall Sept. 5, after the price change. On Sept. 4, it ranked No. 266.

This, of course, could be good news for consumers if Microsoft's competition also cuts prices, though Nintendo may stand pat.

According to the NPD Group, which tracks the industry, Nintendo sold more than 448,000 Wii consoles in August, giving it 12 million total and a solid hold on the No. 1 game console in the market. Five games made for Nintendo systems placed in the top 10 best-selling games of the month: No. 4 Wii Fit (395,00 sold) ; No. 5 Mario Kart (329,000); No. 6 Wii Play (200,000); No. 9 Madden NFL '09 (116,000); No. 10 Guitar Hero: On Tour (111,000).

“The positive public response to Nintendo DS and Wii has stayed strong throughout 2008,” said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales & marketing. “New titles like Madden NFL 09 All-Play for Wii have joined top 10 veterans like Wii Fit, demonstrating the wide and long-lasting appeal of Nintendo games.”

It also speaks to the appeal of price. The Wii came out at $250, well below the 360 and PS3, which boasted high-definition graphics the Nintendo unit didn't have. Consumers have obviously picked price over looks, but it will be interesting to see what happens moving forward. The 360 is already cut and maybe Sony can figure out how to produce a PS3 unit that retails for $250 or less.


Until midnight tonight, gamers can download “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” variety map pack on Xbox Live for half-price. You can also earn twice as many “experience” points during play until the deadline.

Look for former UCLA star Kevin Love on the cover of EA Sports' NCAA Basketball '09, due in stores later this fall. EA Sports promises to focus on the entire season and not just the NCAA Tournament. Gamers will be challenged to mimic their favorite schools' style of play as well as recruit and build up student sections.

Big game releases today: “Star Wars The Force Unleashed.” It tells the story of Galen Marek, who becomes Darth Vader's apprentice somewhere between “Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.”

Look for some new editions of Konami's popular horror genre this fall: “Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia” (Nintendo DS) puts players on a team called the Ecclesia, sworn to defeat the evil forces of Dracula. Konami has a new “Glyph” attack system with more than 100 different combinations. “Castlevania Judgment” (Wii) pits all of vampire hunters and Dracula's allies in one-on-one battles. And “Silent Hill: Homecoming” (Xbox 360 and PS3) allows gamers to figure out why lead character Alex Shepherd is troubled by nightmares and figure out why his family has disappeared.