Microsoft is cutting the US price of its HD DVD player add-on for the Xbox 360 game console, and will give away five free HD DVD movies with each purchase.

In a sign that the battle between the HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc high-definition formats is heating up, the HD DVD player will sell for $179 in the US from August 1, down from $199.


Between August 1 and September 30, buyers will receive five free HD DVD movies chosen from a selection of 15, Microsoft said. The company indicated the free HD DVD movie offer was the same as that offered by Toshiba, which is offering titles including Apollo 13, Seabiscuit, Constantine, Casablanca, We Were Soldiers, U-571 and Blazing Saddles.

Microsoft will also offer the film 300 on its online service Xbox Live on demand, from August 14.

The price reduction of the Xbox 360 HD DVD player may be targeted at Sony. The Japanese consumer electronics giant, which is championing Blu-ray Disc technology against HD DVD, reduced the price of the PlayStation 3 in North America by $100 in anticipation of the launch of a newer version of the game console.

The PlayStation 3, which contains a Blu-ray Disc player, now costs $499 in North America with a 60GB hard-disk drive. A newer version of the PlayStation 3 with an 80GB hard-disk will sell for $599 when it launches in August. The Xbox 360, on the other hand, sells for $399 with a 20G-byte hard drive, while the 120G-byte Xbox 360 Elite costs $479. Neither of the Xbox prices includes the HD DVD player.


Sony and other members of the Blu-ray Disc camp have been able to boast a large base of users of its HD technology because of the number of PlayStation 3s sold.

Microsoft put out the HD DVD player for its Xbox 360 game machines as a way to compete with the PlayStation 3. The company is in the HD DVD corner, with Toshiba and other companies.