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Thursday, September 09, 2004
Price Cuts Propel UK Sales of Xbox, PS2

Last month's back-to-back price cuts by Sony Corp and Microsoft Corp have boosted sales of their PlayStation 2 and Xbox video game consoles in Britain, retail sources said on Thursday.

Weekly sales of Xbox more than tripled to just over 15,000 units per week since Microsoft decided on August 18 to drop the price by 23 percent to 99.99 pounds ($178.70), a retail source said.

The source added that sales of market leader PlayStation 2 doubled in the same period since Sony retaliated with a 25 percent price cut of its own to 104.99 pounds.

Most UK retailers have dropped the PlayStation 2 price tag a further five pounds to match Xbox at 99.99 pounds. "It appears they have found the magic price at that level," the source said.

Sony and Microsoft could not immediately be reached for comment. Neither company has provided a sales update since discounting their consoles in Britain and continental Europe in August.

Britain, the world's third largest video game console market behind the United States and Japan, is a crucial territory for the console makers, particularly in the run up to the all-important Christmas period.

Concerns have been mounting that demand for consoles would weaken this year as gamers spend money on new games, but wait another 18 months for the next generation of consoles to hit the market.

The console makers have instituted a series of price cuts over the years to boost sales just as demand slackens. Analysts view the August price cuts as the last significant discount before new models hit store shelves in 2005 or 2006.

Nintendo , which stayed out of the latest round of price cuts, has experienced languishing demand for its GameCube console, sources said.

"They've kind of disappeared," the source said of Nintendo's GameCube. "It's become a two horse race."

($1=.5594 Pound)

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