Microsoft: No Xbox price cuts for most in Asia

Microsoft has decided to slash the price of its Xbox game console in five countries around the world but pricing will stay status quo for most markets in the region.

Microsoft has decided to slash the price of its Xbox game console in five countries around the world but pricing will stay status quo for most markets in the region.

A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that the fresh round of price cuts will be confined to the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.

"There will be no price reduction announcements in Asia at this time," she told CNETAsia.

In Australia, Microsoft shaved AU$50 (US$38) off the XBox console to AU$249 (US$186.38). Outside Asia, the price of the video game system is dropping to US$149.99 in the United States and US$199.99 in Canada, the software maker announced yesterday. These price cuts have been expected.

But the new prices may not be low enough. Last Friday, Tony Gikas, an analyst with US-based Piper Jaffray, wrote in a research note that the console would be better priced at US$129 to give a needed boost to sales of both hardware and software over the next year. The US$149 price is a "risky undertaking" that will limit unit sales, he wrote.

Sony is likely to respond in mid-April with an identical price cut for its PlayStation 2 console, Gikas wrote. The two rivals are trying to keep interest strong in their devices as they prepare follow-on machines.

"At this lower mass market price point, we're opening up this great system to an even broader audience of people who can experience Xbox for the first time," Mitch Koch, corporate vice president of worldwide retail sales for Microsoft, said in a statement

Besides slashing console prices, the software maker also lowered the price tags for accompanying games such as "Project Gotham Racing 2" and "Counter Strike".

While Microsoft is sticking to its XBox pricing for most parts of Asia for now, the firm has been aggressively promoting the system with free game bundles. At a recently-concluded gadget bazaar in Singapore, the firm offered the XBox for free when consumers purchase six game titles. Over 1,000 units of the XBox were sold during the three days of the fair, a local spokesman said.

Additional reporting by CNETAsia.