Sony has announced a price cut to its PS3 gaming console, lobbing off 50 bucks to go from $299 to $249.

The 17 percent price cut is the first time Sony has dropped the price of its main console since 2009. At $249, the 160 GB version of the PS3 (the 320 GB version's price will go from $299 from $349) is now $351 less than its original asking price of $600. That original price tag when it came out in 2006 was one of the reasons it has perennially been in third place in terms of sales behind Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii according to NPD Group sales.

As the years have gone on, Sony has constantly cut the price while adding more services. The company has tried to shift away from referring to PS3 as a gaming console to calling it an entertainment platform.

"With the breadth and depth of services and content available for the PS3 system, including its impressive BD software line-up and the expansive portfolio of more than 60,000 games and video content available on PlayStation Network, the new price will make the platform more accessible than ever and will appeal to a wider audience looking to buy the best entertainment system for their home," Sony said in a statement.

The price cut may be an example of Sony sensing an opportunity in the gaming industry. For the first time since this generation of consoles was released, Nintendo's Wii didn't dominate sales. With it and Microsoft's Xbox vying to be the new number one, Sony wanted to get a jump start said Scott Steinberg, veteran video game analyst at

"This is a proactive strike from Sony," Steinberg said. "Sony has been rapidly gaining share and it has made strides since the original $600 price tag. Its pricing aggressively as it senses in roads in the console market. It can expand the install base with this move."

Steinberg said this move differs from Nintendo's recent price cut of the 3DS portable gaming console.

"It is apples and oranges. That was reactive. This is proactive. Nintendo's 3DS sales were sluggish as consumers are reticent to spend the money to jump to a new format," he said.

Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, Sony isn't even focused on Nintendo with this move. This move is solely about its rivalry with Microsoft's Xbox.

"They aren't even looking at Nintendo. It's all about Xbox and Playstation 3. I think it's a bold, smart move. If Nintendo doesn't react, Sony has a big advantage," Pachter said.

Even as sales of the Wii have dropped, Sony has had difficulty getting more people to buy the PS3 than the Xbox 360. NPD Group says Xbox 360 has outsold PS3 for the last seven months.

Follow Gabriel Perna on Twitter at @GabrielSPerna