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SONY LOWERS PRICE $100 IN BID TO RAISE INTEREST

Sony Computer Entertainment America launched a major salvo in the battle for game players' hearts and wallets Thursday by lopping $100 off the price of its Sony Playstation Video Game Player.

Beginning immediately, the Sony Playstation will sell for $199. The company launched the game player a year ago at $299.Jim Whims, executive vice president for Sony Computer Entertainment, made the announcment Thursday during a panel discussion at the Electronic Entertainment Expo .

His surprise announcment drew prolonged applause from the audience and stunned suprise from the 10-member panel, which included leaders of Nintendo of America and Sega of America Inc.

"At Sony, our philosophy regarding price changes is very simple. Go big or go home," Whims said. In his next breath he announced the new price for the Playstation.

Whims noted that the electronic game industry has thrived on one-upmanship, as first one company and then another moves price or adds features.

Indeed. Sega Enterprises recently trimmed the price of the Saturn game player to $249 from $299.

Tom Kalinske, president and CEO of Sega of America Inc., said hardware manufacturers don't expect to make money on their systems.

"The goal is to get an installed based and make money on software," he said.

And earlier this week Nintendo upped the ante with the announcement that its new Nintendo 64 Player, which uses 64-bit technology, will be priced at $249.

The new system represents a huge technological leap over the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, which operates on 16-bit technology. By comparison, Windows 95 uses 32-bit technology.

Nintendo 64 will allow games to be designed with real-time, 3D animation features.

Nintendo showed off its new game system at E3 this week. Nintendo plans to release the 64-bit home video game system in September. The first game title for the system will be Super Mario 64, which has been a proven bestseller in its earlier incarnations.

Nintendo plans to release about half a dozen other game titles for the system by the end of the year.