NEW YORK - Sony Corp. is cutting the price of its PlayStation 3 gaming console by $50 to $249 in an attempt to drum up demand for the five-year-old machine.
The last time Sony lowered the price was in 2009, when it launched a lighter, slimmer model.
The worldwide price cut comes less than a month after rival Nintendo Co. lowered the price of its hand-held Nintendo 3DS player, which lets players view 3-D games and videos without special glasses.
Hand-held gaming devices are also facing competition from the iPhone and other smartphones.
“It is no secret that the PlayStation 3 has been struggling for some time against the Microsoft Xbox 360 in North America,’’ though it did slightly better in Europe, said Jesse Divnich, an analyst at Electronic Entertainment Design and Research.
Divnich does not believe Microsoft Corp. will follow with its own price cut immediately. Rather, the maker of the Xbox 360 “will likely wait to see the commercial impact of the price disparity’’ between the Xbox and the PlayStation.
The Xbox 360’s popular 250 gigabyte version costs $300. A version with a smaller hard drive, 4 gigabytes, is $200.
Microsoft said it does not talk about pricing plans in advance.
In all, Microsoft has sold 55 million Xbox 360s worldwide, and Sony has sold 52 million units of the PS3.
Nintendo is still number one with 86 million, though sales of the console have slowed considerably.
Sony is also launching its hand-held PlayStation Vita in the United States early next year. It will cost $249 for a Wi-Fi-only version and $299 for a version that will also have cellphone service.