Sony

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will lower the price of its PlayStation 3 video game console in its home market by more than $100, as the player is set to join the three-company fracas in the holiday season's next-generation battle.

The Associated Press reported early Friday that the Japanese electronics giant will cut the price of its basic PlayStation 3 model in Japan to $410 from an originally planned $515 for its lowest-cost model. That puts the PlayStation 3 in the same range as

Microsoft's

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combined basic Xbox 360 and HD DVD player in Japan, where the duo will sell for $427.

The announcement comes just days after Microsoft said it would roll out an external high-definition DVD player for its Xbox 360 in an effort to match the PlayStation 3, which is due to be released later this year with Blu-ray DVD technology.

The price cut affects the basic PlayStation 3 model, which comes with a 20-gigabyte hard drive. Another upscale version of the PlayStation 3 will have a 60-gigabyte hard drive, the AP reported.

Earlier this month, Sony said it would delay the European release by four months until March, but the console will hit stores in Japan on Nov. 11 and in the U.S. on Nov. 17. Sony now expects to ship only 2 million units by year's end instead of 4 million as originally planned.

Nintendo

(NTDOY)

plans to launch its rival Wii player in North America on Nov. 17.

Sony has said it still expects to ship 6 million PlayStation 3s by the end of its fiscal year in March, but some analysts have their doubts.

However, it could mean little for the PS3's fortunes in the long term. Despite problems with Sony's PlayStation 2 console launch in 2000, the company ended up selling more than 100 million units and dominated the market.

Shares of Sony closed Thursday down 8 cents to $41.46