Sony yesterday announced a slimmed down, cheaper version of its PlayStation 3 (PS3) games console, and slashed the price of the existing PS3.

The PlayStation 3 launched in 2006 to great fanfare, but has been less than the stellar success that Sony hoped for, hemmed in by the popularity of Microsoft's HD-gaming rival the Xbox 360, and the lower-spec Nintendo Wii. This week's move attempts to address that situation.

The cut-down PlayStation 3 will launch worldwide on September 1 and will cost £249 in the UK. It's expected that the price of the standard-sized models will drop at the same time. Sony yesterday announced that the 80GB model will drop to $299. Sony's heftier 160GB model will also see a drop in price, now costing $399. We don't have UK pricing at this point, but a cut will almost certainly follow.

Games downloads and reviews

Sony says the slim PS3 is roughly a third smaller and 36 percent lighter than the standard model. It has a 120GB hard disk, is a Blu-ray player and works as a media centre.

Speaking at the Gamescom conference in Cologne, Sony Computer Entertainment president Kazuo Hirai said: "In 2004 we launched a slim version of PlayStation 2, a defining moment for that console, helping us to expand the user base of PlayStation further. Today is that day for PlayStation 3."

After the slimmed-down PS2 launch and price cut, Sony added that more than 80 percent of PS2 sales. Around 23.7 million PlayStation 3s have been sold since launch.