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Sony drops PSP price to $130

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With its next generation portable system looming, Sony is giving the PSP one last moment in the spotlight. Effective this Sunday, the company will cut the retail price of its portable gaming system by $40, from $170 to $130.

The move not only lets Sony access a new audience with the PSP, it lets the company get out in front of the launch of the Nintendo 3DS, which will hit shelves on March 27.

The PSP hasn't been the category-changer that many expected it would be when it was unveiled in 2004, but it has hardly been a failure. The company has sold 67.8 million units worldwide as of the end of 2010, 23 million of which were sold in North America alone.

To date, there are more than 590 games for the system. And to accompany the price cut, Sony announced that 13 more titles are being added to the "Greatest Hits" and "Favorites" libraries, which offer games at notably reduced prices. New additions include Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, LittleBigPlanet, Resistance: Retribution and Assassin's Creed: Bloodlines.

"Nearly six years after its initial launch, demand for the PSP remains strong," said Tim Bender, senior vice president of sales at Sony Computer Entertainment America. "This new price point enables us to broaden the PSP platform to a larger group of consumers who are looking for best-in-class handheld entertainment."

Not every PSP is getting cheaper, though. The PSP Go, which eschews physical media for digital downloads, will remain at $200. That's not likely to cause a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, though, as it has never been a big seller for the company.

While the primary reason for the sale is to clear out some inventory before the NGP arrives, Sony is also hoping to goose sales of the PSP, which has lagged badly in recent months. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Morgan Securities says the company sold just 80,000 PSPs last month -- a 20 percent drop from the January 2010 numbers.

It's worth noting that this isn't the last hurrah for the PSP. Sony intends to continue selling the device even after the NGP is released. The price cut, though, puts the PSP at or close to the sweet spot for many consumers and could give it momentum, keeping it in the collective consciousness even as the next generation of handheld systems hits the market this year.

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