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Sony slashing PlayStation Vita price by a third

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo

Sony is slashing the price on its handheld PlayStation Vita console by as much as one-third as the electronics giant and rivals face stiff rivalry from online games.

The company said Monday its 3G/Wi-Fi model will sell for ¥19,980 starting Feb. 28, down from the current ¥29,980, while the price of the Wi-Fi model will be reduced to ¥19,980 from the current ¥24,980.

Sony said earlier this month Vita sales were slow. On Monday it said the price cuts are designed to “make the platform more accessible than ever and will appeal to wider audiences looking to buy the model best suitable for their own game play style.”

Sony, which is aiming to return to profitability after four years in the red, is expected later this month to announce the successor to its popular PlayStation 3 home game console.

Xbox maker Microsoft is also expected to unveil a new versions of its console. The consoles have been evolving into home entertainment hubs for films, television, music, social networking and more.

However, the once-mighty gaming firms are groping to retain market share as they fend off a challenge from cheap — or sometimes free — downloadable games for smartphones and tablets.

Around 674,365 PlayStation Vita units were sold in 2012 in Japan, game magazine firm Enterbrain Inc. said. Nintendo Co.’s 3DS portable game console sold some 5.63 million units last year.