Microsoft Corp. said on Wednesday it would launch an HD DVD player for its Xbox 360 game console on November 22 in Japan for 20,790 yen ($177), matching rival Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 in high-definition DVD functions.

Sony's PS3, which is set to hit store shelves in Japan and North America in November, will be equipped with a competing Blu-ray optical disc player.

Nintendo Co. Ltd. plans to offer its new game console, the Wii, in November in the United States, setting the stage for a three-way showdown in the nearly $30 billion video game market.

Microsoft said 110 game titles will become available for Xbox 360 in Japan by the end of the year. That is up from its previous target in April of 80 titles.

Offering a wide-ranging and attractive software lineup is important for the world's largest software maker to shore up its Xbox 360 business in Japan.

Microsoft, which launched Xbox 360 last November, shipped five million units worldwide by June and plans to ship a cumulative total of 10 million units by December. But in Japan, home to Sony and Nintendo, it has been struggling to improve sluggish sales.

As of September 10, Microsoft had sold about 160,000 units of its Xbox 360 in Japan, according to industry watcher Enterbrain.

Sony, in comparison, sold almost a million units of PlayStation 2 in the first three days of its launch in Japan in 2000.

($1=117.36 Yen)