Nintendo Slashes Wii's Price by $50

Jaana Baker, 23, holds the controller of her new Nintendo Wii in front of her 37-inch TV in Placentia, Calif., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2006. Baker cracked her LCD screen during a particularly spirited round of Wii bowling after snapping the controller's wrist strap and sending it into her flat-screen TV. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
AP Photo
Nintendo is slashing the price of its popular Wii game console in Japan and the U.S. by 20 percent, part of a global strategy to spur sales ahead of the crucial year-end shopping season.

In Japan, the Wii's price will be cut to 20,000 yen ($220) from 25,000 yen starting Oct. 1, the company said Thursday. In the U.S. the day before, Nintendo said the console's price will be lowered by $50 on Sunday to $200.

Prices in Europe were also expected to be lowered, but details were not announced.

The reductions follows similar moves by archrivals Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Console price cuts are customary for the video game industry after the systems have celebrated a birthday or two, because they help lure in mass audiences who don't want to spend large chunks of cash on them.

Sony said in August it would cut the price in Japan for its popular PlayStation 3 to 29,980 yen. U.S.-based Microsoft said last month it was cutting the Japanese price for its high-end Xbox 360 game console by 25 percent to 29,800 yen.

Nintendo had earlier said it had no plan to slash the price for the Wii. But company spokesman Ken Toyoda said the company hoped to "spur sales" with cheaper Wii consoles.

"With the price cuts both in Japan and the United States, we want to spur sales during the upcoming year-end shopping seasons," Toyoda said.

The global recession has made price cuts important, especially as game companies gear up for the holiday shopping season, when the video game industry makes most of its money. Without the price cuts, it would be difficult to entice budget-conscious shoppers to buy the machines.

The Wii, whose game control senses motions without having to rely solely on buttons and levers, is the top selling console worldwide. Launched in 2006, Nintendo's Wii hit 50 million unit sales worldwide in March 2009 - the fastest sales pace of any video game machine ever.

In Japan, the Wii controls 65 percent of the game market, worth 550 billion yen, according to data from Tokai Tokyo Securities Co. Ltd. Sony's PlayStation has 26 percent of the market, followed by 9 percent for Microsoft's Xbox.