In a bid to revive sagging sales of its beleaguered Xbox 360 video game console, Microsoft will drop the price of the device by $20 to 50 in the US this week, depending on model. The move comes just a month after rival Sony cut the cost of its expensive PlayStation 3 console by $100. Both Microsoft and Sony are under pressure to jumpstart sales of their consoles after an unexpectedly strong start from Nintendo, whose low-price Wii console is decimating the Xbox 360 and PS3 in sales.

"As we look to the holidays we want to bring in more gamers and lower the price for those customers," Microsoft group product manager Aaron Greenberg told Reuters. "We're always trying to bring down cost of the box and we always try to pass on the savings to our consumers. We feel like this is the right time to do it."

The low-end Xbox 360 Core, which does not include a hard drive, is falling by $20 to $280. The mainstream Xbox 360, which includes a 20 GB hard drive, will see the biggest price cut, $50, to $350. The high-end Xbox 360 Elite, which features a unique black design and a 120 GB hard drive, falls by $30 to $450. The price cuts go into effect tomorrow, August 8, in the US only. Microsoft has not confirmed whether it will cut prices similarly in other markets.

Microsoft recently dropped the price of the Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive from $199 to $179, but this represents the first price cut for the Xbox 360 console, which entered the market in November 2005, about a year before the PS3 and Wii. The 20 months that the Xbox 360 has been available is the longest period of time any console has been on the market without a price cut. Microsoft has sold 5.6 million Xbox 360s in the US in this time frame.

According to Microsoft, the price cuts had been planned months in advance to coincide with the release of "Madden 08," a popular sports game title that is launching this month, and had nothing to do with competition from Nintendo or Sony. The company is also looking ahead to the September release of "Halo 3" to jumpstart Xbox 360 sales further.