Sony Corp. slashed the price of its current PlayStation 3 by $100, or 16.7 percent, and introduced a high-capacity model in an effort to spur sales of the struggling video game console. Starting Monday, the current 60 gigabyte model will cost $499, down from $599.
The Japanese electronics maker also said it is introducing a new version of the PlayStation 3 with a bigger hard drive for storing downloaded content such as video games and high-definition movies.
The new PS3 increases the system's storage capacity to 80 gigabytes from 60 gigabytes and also includes a retail copy of the online racing title "MotorStorm," a company spokesman said. It will be priced at $599.
The larger capacity machine won't be available in the United States and Canada until August.
It plays into the company's upcoming strategy of eventually offering downloaded high-definition movies, video games, movie trailers and demos, Sony spokesman David Karraker said.
Karraker said further details on high-def movies for download would be released at a later date.
The announcement comes two days before the E3 Media & Business Summit in Santa Monica, Calif., where dozens of industry heavyweights including Sony rivals Microsoft Corp. and Nintendo Co. are expected to show off their latest games and related products.
Sony has said it sold 3.6 million PS3s in the fiscal year ending March 31 and expects to sell another 11 million in the current fiscal year. Microsoft said in its most recent quarterly earnings report filed in April that it had shipped 11 million Xbox 360s.
Nintendo, meanwhile, claims it has sold nearly 6 million Wiis worldwide as of March 31, and more than 40 million Nintendo DS handhelds. The company has predicted it will sell another 14 million Wiis and 22 million additional DS systems by the end of the current fiscal year.
The Wii and PS3 were released within days of each other late last year. Microsoft had a head start in the current generation of consoles, having launched its Xbox 360 in 2005. Last week, the software company announced an extension of the warranty due to the high number of systems suffering from hardware failure, also called the "red ring of death."
In April, Microsoft began selling a version of its Xbox 360 with a 120-gigabyte hard drive and a souped up high-definition video connection. Called Xbox 360 Elite, the black-colored system sells for $479.99.
Xbox gamers who already own the $399.99 20-gigabyte model can buy a snap-on 120-gigabyte hard drive for $179.99.
Karraker said Sony would use the E3 show to focus on two areas: ways to increase the number of consumers who own PS3s and other products such as the PlayStation Portable handheld system, and expanding the system's library of available games.
He said Sony would be releasing 100 new video games during the current fiscal year, including 15 titles that are exclusive to the PS3 such as the hack-and-slash action title "Heavenly Sword."