Microsoft's external high-definition DVD player for Xbox 360 console will use the HD-DVD format and will be released on Nov. 22 in Japan, the software maker said on Wednesday during a media briefing at the Tokyo Game Show 2006.

In an effort to gain market share ahead of the arrival of competitive products by Sony and Nintendo Co., the company will begin sales of the DVD player for about USD$169, designed to match the Blu-ray disc functions of Sony's PlayStation3. The basic 20 GB Xbox 360 sells for about $340 in Japan and $300 in the US, both without a next-generation DVD player.

The 20GB PlayStation 3 costs $499, while the 60GB PS3 is priced at $599. It will begin selling at retailers on Nov 17 in North and South America.

Furthermore, Xbox Japan General Manager Takashi Sensui announced that a set Xbox 360 Core System package, which excludes HDD, media remote and a few items, will come with two free games such as Ninety-Nine Nights for $255 during the campaign period. Also in preparation for Christmas sales, he said that upon a release of video game Blue Dragon in Japan on Dec. 7, it would be included for free with the Core set. Blue Dragon features graphic work from Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama and direction by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi.

In terms of quality, we will have the strongest lineup. We can promise you this Sensui said.