Sony is introducing a new version of its PlayStation 3 (PS3) console in North America in August and cutting the price of the current 60GB model by $100 (£50) from today, it said.

The price of the current console with a 60GB hard-disk drive will fall to $499 (£250) today and a new version with 80GB hard-disk drive will be launched in August at $599 (£300), which is the same price that the 60GB model has been selling at until now.

The new pricing means that the top-of-the-line PS3 will still carry the same price tag as it has since launch so while the price of the 60GB model has been cut it's perhaps not the lower price that analysts have been looking for from Sony for several months.

The PS3's price, the highest ever for a games console, has been criticised since before it was launched in November last year and it is cited by many as a reason for relatively poor sales of the console. Sony missed its shipment target for the first few months and has been struggling to keep up with Nintendo's smash-hit Wii console, which costs about half as much.

The timing of the cut comes as some surprise. On Friday Sony President Ryoji Chubachi told Reuters in an interview that Sony had no plans at present to cut the price of the console.

The 80GB PS3 was first revealed in a regulatory filing with the US Federal Communications Commission in March. The machine was officially announced by Sony in late May and first went on sale in South Korea in June.

Sony said the extra hard-disk space will appeal to online gamers and those interested in using the PS3's internet connection to download movie trailers and games. The new PS3 will also come packaged with the ‘MotorStorm’ game that supports up to 12 people playing online in the same game simultaneously.

See also:

PS3 review

Nintendo Wii review

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