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Microsoft chops Xbox game prices for the holidays

The software giant entices last-minute shoppers with a 17-day sale that will offer deep discounts on digital games, movies and TV shows.

Microsoft's huge Xbox sale will run until January 7.
Microsoft/Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Consumers looking for the hottest Xbox games will be treated to a huge sale from Microsoft starting next week.

Running December 22 through January 7, the Countdown sale will include both daily and weekly discounts on games for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 as well as apps, TV shows and movies. The deals will be available worldwide via the Xbox Store.

Microsoft's goal is to nab last-minute holiday shoppers as well as those looking for bargains after Christmas. The Xbox One has generally played second fiddle to the Sony PlayStation 4 in terms of monthly sales. Over the past year, Microsoft has been able to boost Xbox One demand and play more competitively against the PS4 by cutting prices, bundling free games and offering other promotions.

Microsoft has been busy pushing the Xbox One since it debuted two years ago, with a separate promotion currently offering $50 off the price of the console plus two free games. The Redmond, Washington, company hasn't forgotten about the Xbox 360, which still draws in buyers looking for a less pricey and more basic console. The Countdown sale includes deals for games and other content for both the Xbox One and Xbox 360, with up to 40 percent to 60 percent off, said Microsoft.

In the past, the Xbox One had been criticized for its lack of blockbuster titles. This year, Microsoft made a concerted effort to drum up a greater array of games as another way to lure in Xbox One buyers. The Countdown sale will offer discounts on such popular titles as Halo 5: Guardians, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza Motorsport 6, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Fallout 4 and Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

One major criticism initially thrown at the Xbox One was its lack of backward compatibility. Xbox 360 owners who bought an Xbox One were unable to play any of their existing games. Microsoft corrected that limitation this year, so Xbox One owners can now play more than 100 games designed for the 360, with more being added on a regular basis. The Countdown sale promises discounted prices on more than 10 backward-compatible games.

Microsoft has also tried to push the Xbox One as a full entertainment center rather than just a game console. Toward that end, the sale will cut prices on hundreds of movies and TV shows, including "Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation," "Kingsman: The Secret Service" and "Mad Max: Fury Road." During the sale, Xbox One owners will be able to check out free one-month trials of such apps as Sling TV, Crunchyroll and CBS All Access. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.)

Microsoft advises consumers to visit the Countdown page or the MajorNelson page starting December 22 to check out the latest details on the sale.

Correction, 1:40 p.m. PT: The original version of this story incorrectly stated the extent of the sale. Microsoft's Countdown sale will offer deals on digital games, apps, movies and TV shows for the Xbox One and Xbox 360.