It's hard to believe the holiday shopping season is already looming on the horizon, but Sony's preparing for this year's festivities with a $50 global price reduction on the PlayStation 3. The move places Sony's base 160GB console at $250, €250 and ¥25,000, while the 320GB unit is $300, €300, and ¥30,000. America and Europe should witness the cuts immediately (Amazon US has updated its pricing), while Japan will have to wait until Thursday, August 18.

To further entice shoppers, Sony will offer its 320GB console with a copy of Infamous 2 (released in early June with a decent Metascore) and a 30-day PlayStation Plus membership for $300. PlayStation Plus usually costs $50 a year and grants access to free games, discounts, exclusive demos, full one-hour game trials, and priority beta invites. The bundle is a limited edition run and it's only available through participating retailers (Newegg currently has it in stock).

This represents the PS3's first price reduction since 2009's Slim model and is undoubtedly meant to strengthen Sony's position against Microsoft's Xbox 360, which has been the top-selling console for 13 out of the last 14 months. Nonetheless, SCEA CEO Jack Tretton contests that Sony's rivals are "losing steam" while the PS3 is "gaining momentum" and offers the best all-around entertainment solution for gamers as well as movie, television and sports buffs.

We'll let you decide if that's true, but as it stands the base 4GB Xbox 360 is $200, making the 160GB PS3 a solid value – especially when you consider its Blu-ray player. That's also seen when comparing the upper-end systems as $300 gets you a 320GB PS3 or 250GB Xbox 360, and again that's disregarding the superior optical drive and the Infamous 2 offer. It's unclear if Microsoft plans to respond by lowering its prices, but the ball is certainly in Redmond's court.

Despite leading sales charts for years, Nintendo's Wii has lost momentum in recent times and the company responded in May with its own $50 reduction, placing the entry-level Mario Kart package at $150. In a separate move, Nintendo also slashed $80 off its 3DS handheld console late last month following lackluster launch sales. That change was slated for last Friday and many retailers reportedly jumped the gun, so it should be easy to find a $170 3DS.

In somewhat related news, Sony has also announced a new budget version of its PlayStation Portable. Intended to serve as an affordable alternative to the pricier Vita, the new PSP E-1000 will launch in Europe this fall for €99 (no word on North American availability). Unlike the digital-only PSPgo, the new device will lack Wi-Fi connectivity and will be compatible with "all" PSP games. Content will be accessed via UMD or transferred via Sony's Media Go software.