Maybe it was the bad economy. Maybe it’s the back-to-school season or an attempt to generate more interest ahead of Christmas shopping period. In any case, Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) hopes to see a sales boost now that its XBox console is now cheaper than rivals Nintendo Wii and Sony (NYSE: SNE) Playstation3, FT reports. Microsoft, which consistently ranks third in console sales behind its two rivals, is cutting prices in the U.S. and Japan. In the U.S., Microsoft’s 360 Arcade console, which doesn’t have a hard drive, is getting a 29 percent price cut — from $279.99 to $199.99. By comparison, the Wii sells for $249.99. Microsoft’s 60Gb hard drive model will now go for $299.99, which is being lowered by $50. That makes it $100 cheaper than a similar PlayStation3. However, price isn’t everything, as the 60Gb model doesn’t have its Blu-ray drive and Wi-Fi capabilities. The high-end, high-def Xbox 360 Elite, which has a 120Gb hard drive and wireless controller, will retail for $399. The lighter price tag is also designed to complement XBox’s moves on the content side. Earlier this summer, XBox, which has roughly 12 million users, struck deals with Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) and NBC Universal.