Posted by Mike Wehner
There no way around it: Game consoles are expensive pieces of hardware. Most launch with price tags anywhere from $300 all the way up to $600, though those figures gradually come down over time. According to The Verge, the Xbox 360 is poised to get a subsidized bundle which would offer the console and Kinect accessory for just $99 upfront, along with a two-year subscription agreement.
The current cost of a base model Xbox 360 Kinect bundle is currently $299, so dropping the price by two thirds would be a remarkable feat. The remaining cost of the system is then included in a $15 monthly subscription which offers access to Xbox Live Gold — required for online play and other features — and perhaps even some additional streaming media content, though the details of this addition are still hazy.
Spreading the cost of a video game console over time is a rather fresh idea, but the practice of subsidization has been used for ages by wireless providers to bring down the cost of handsets and other hardware. If this as-of-yet unconfirmed information pans out, it could be a big deal not just for Microsoft, but for the video game industry as a whole. However, with a rumored reveal of the next Xbox console just around the corner, it may be a tough sell to ask customers to commit to the current generation of gaming for a further 24 months.