NEWS - Thursday, April 10, 2003

Xbox Drops Price In UK

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday slashed the price of its Xbox computer game console by 20 percent in Europe, its third price cut in just over a year as it tries to keep its slim hold on No. 2 market position. The company will sell Xbox units for 199 euros ($214.40) in continental Europe and 129 pounds ($201.90) in Britain, bringing its prices below market leader Sony's PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube. "We had a great Christmas and firmly established ourselves as the number-two console player in this region," said Peter Moore, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Retail Sales and Marketing, Home and Entertainment Division, Microsoft. "We outsold some very long-established competition and enjoyed near sell-out status, gaining market share along the way. This price change shows we are not content to rest on our laurels – we will continue to be aggressive in building upon this momentum throughout the year. "This is also great news for gamers," said Moore. "Our success in Europe and increased market share means we can take action to remain competitive and allow even more gamers to experience Xbox - and this is a fantastic time to experience Xbox. Hotly anticipated games like Brute Force, Midtown Madness 3 and MotoGP 2 are on the way in the coming months. Also, Xbox Live (which launched 14th March in eight European countries) is bringing Xbox gamers the very best in always-on, fast-action Live gaming. We're looking forward to continuing our success in Europe through the year." Sony, in an effort to maintain its market lead, has been offering consumers the PlayStation 2 console plus a game at many retail locations in Britain for 169 pounds, and for between 249 euros and 259 euros in continental Europe. A Sony Computer Entertainment Europe spokesman declined to comment on whether they may retaliate with a price cut. Nintendo could not be immediately reached for comment. Microsoft announced its price cut a month before the annual E3 trade show in the United States. In past years, the console makers had waited for the event to make pricing announcements. Analysts and industry watchers say that Sony and Nintendo may also drop the prices on their consoles in the coming weeks to boost traditionally slower sales in the summer. That price cut led to strong Christmas sales and vaulted Xbox to Europe's No. 2 spot, firmly behind Sony's PlayStation 2. "Xbox launched in Europe just over a year ago and our first Christmas in the region saw us clearly emerge as the number two player," said Moore. "Games designed for Xbox such as Splinter Cell and Panzer Dragoon Orta clearly demonstrate the advanced hardware features on the Xbox and have sold incredibly well. Other games that have fired the imagination of gamers include cross-platform games such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, FIFA 2003, and Colin McRae Rally 3 – these titles have proved the Xbox Difference and enjoyed remarkable sales. With over 250 new titles available this year, 2003 will bring even more must-have titles for Xbox. Microsoft said on Thursday it had sold two million Xbox units in Europe so far, putting it narrowly ahead of GameCube but well behind PlayStation 2. ($1=.9283 Euro) ($1=.6390 Pound)

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