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Game wars heat up for holidays

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Game developers will be able to apply for collateral-free loans to develop games for the GameCube, released this month  

By Alex Frew McMillan
CNN Hong Kong

TOKYO, Japan -- Nintendo confirmed Tuesday that its president Hiroshi Yamauchi will spend 20 billion yen ($161 million) of his own money to set up a fund for game development.

Yamauchi will set the fund up sometime in 2002 to back game writers and programmers to come up with better games, a company spokesman told CNN. No set timetable has been established yet.

Companies will be able to apply for collateral-free loans to design games for the Nintendo GameCube machine as well as Nintendo's GameBoy Advance handheld game toy.

Sony cuts prices 15 percent in Japan

The move comes a day after Sony Corp. said it will cut the price of its PlayStation 2 game console in Japan by 15 percent.

Sony also said it will start selling PlayStation 2s in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand starting December 13.

With what the company says is strong advance demand in Asia, the PlayStation will go on sale in Taiwan as of January 24.

The two companies are squaring off with Microsoft in a heated three-way fight for video gamers dollars and yen.

Nintendo's GameCube and Microsoft Corp.'s XBox were both released this month, ahead of the holiday season.

New games due in December

Officially, Sony said it was dropping the PlayStation 2 price in Japan due to an increase in production and cheaper manufacturing costs.

The company also wants to spur demand ahead of a series of new games it is putting out in December.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc., the division that makes the PlayStation, will drop the PlayStation 2's price to 29,800 yen ($239.60) as of November 29. Sony already cut the price to 35,000 yen in June.

But industry watchers say competition is driving the price cutting. Sony and Nintendo, which used to share the game-playing market, have seen their market shares drop as Microsoft and Sega claim customers.

Sony is expected to claim around a 45 percent share of the game console market with the PlayStation 2, with Nintendo's GameCube corning 30 percent of the market and the Microsoft XBox, around 25 percent.

Sony has also dropped the price of PlayStation 2s in Europe, where the machines sell for around the equivalent of $280.

But it has kept the price at $299 in the United States since the machines first went on sale in November 2000.


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