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Xbox 360 To Hit Stores Nov. 22

Seattle — Microsoft announced that its next-generation Xbox video game console — the Xbox 360 — will go on sale in time for the Thanksgiving holiday shopping period on Nov. 22.

The timing of the introduction will allow Microsoft to get a head start on rival Sony’s PlayStation 3 console, which is slated to appear next spring.

Microsoft will offer two pricing plans for the Xbox 360, starting with a basic version at $299.99 and moving to a step-up bundle priced at $399.99.

The less-expensive version will include only the Xbox 360 console with a controller. The step-up option will come with a 20GB hard drive, a wireless controller, a headset for talking to other players when used online and a special remote control that lets users more easily access multimedia functions.

Designed to incorporate other entertainment appliances, the Xbox 360 will act as a hub for music, photos, real-time online connectivity and movie delivery from a Media Center PC.

The announcement of the release date came out of this week’s Tokyo Game Show. The U.S. launch will be followed with launches in Europe on Dec. 2 and Japan on Dec. 10, Microsoft said.