Xbox 360 pricing plans confirmed
Ending months of speculation, rabid rumouring and some particularly virulent fanboi flamewars, Microsoft have finally laid out the pricing plans for their imminent Xbox 360 console. Confirming what many had suspected, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 will indeed be available in two different versions from the launch date. The 'core' model will be the cheaper of the two, priced at $299, £209 or E299 in each respective market. This core version of the console will offer a minimal package consisting of a wired controller, an interchangeable faceplate, a standard A/V cable and an Xbox Live Silver membership. The Silver membership will allow gamers to create a user id, download game content, chat with other Live users and access the Xbox 360 marketplace where they will be able to download game trailers, demos and games from Xbox Live Arcade. It will not, however, allow any other games to be played online. An upgrade to full Gold membership will be needed for online play with the pricing of Gold membership still subject to the Official Secrets Act.
The Xbox 360 'fully-loaded' system will come with a range of extras and will be the only version of the console to come with the 20GB detachable hard-drive as standard. This package will cost $399, £279 or E399. This bundle will also come with an Ethernet cable, a wireless controller, faceplate, a Live communicator headset, component HiDef A/V cables and Xbox Live Silver membership. For a limited period this package will also include an Xbox 360 media remote controller. The premium console will also be visually distinguished from its cheaper sibling by signature metallic detailing on the console itself. The wireless controller has a stated range of 30 feet and Microsoft claim it will last for up to 30 hours on two AA batteries. If you want a rechargeable controller you will have to fork-out for a rechargeable battery and the Play & Charge kit, an expensive proposition at $32 or £25. Even taking potential extra costs into mind this latter bundle certainly offers very good value for money and still manages to beat the standard price of new consoles (without any extras) in the UK market of £300 by twenty pounds. If you were to buy all the extras separately you would be looking at spending around 200 "bucks", so it certainly seems exceptionally good value. So much so that you have to wonder if the core version is little more than a marketing gimmick to grab some headlines. It will be a good bargain for more casual gamers, especially those who have no interest in Live play and would be content with a memory stick to save games to, but the vast majority of early adopters are serious gamers who are likely to scoff at the relative puniness of the value pack.
Announcing the packaging and pricing details at the Leipzig gaming conference this afternoon, Microsoft also confirmed that the Xbox 360 is on track for release in North America, Europe and Japan in time for the holiday season, so if either of these packages appeal you will know exactly how much money you will have to save up to be an early adopter. Or how much cash Santa is going to need from Mum and Dad before you find one underneath the Christmas tree this year.
While Europe and the UK in particular are getting a raw deal as far as the price is concerned ($400 = £220 and E325, UK punters are paying a premium of £60) these pricing levels practically guarantee some decent bundling options for the UK market. It wouldn't be surprising to see some retailers drop the price of the core model to as low as 200 pounds and to offer the maxi model with a game for an even £300, which seems like a good deal to this gamer. The final confirmation on the non-ubiquitous-ness of the hard drive will no doubt fuel a lot more arguments and considerations as to how this will affect games development. With only three months to go before the Xbox 360's launch date more news and details are sure to begin to flow thick and fast, so stay tuned for all the latest info.
We've just got a hold of the price list for all the extras that will be available for console:
- Faceplate ($19.99, 19.99 Euros, 14.99 GBP)
- Hard Drive (20 GB) ($99.99, 99.99 Euros, 69.99 GBP)
- Memory Unit (64 MB) ($39.99, 34.99 Euros, 22.99 GBP)
- Wireless Networking Adapter ($99.99, 79.99 Euros, 59.99 GBP)
- Wireless Controller ($49.99, 44.99 Euros, 32.99 GBP)
- Play and Charge Kit ($19.99, 19.99 Euros, 14.99 GBP)
- Rechargeable Battery Pack ($11.99, 14.99 Euros, 9.99 GBP)
- Controller ($39.99, 34.99 Euros, 24.99 GBP)
- Headset ($19.99, 19.99 Euros, 14.99 GBP)
- Universal Media Remote ($29.99, 29.99 Euros, 19.99 GBP)
- Component HD AV Cable ($39.99, 29.99 Euros, 19.99 GBP)
- S-Video AV Cable (US) ($29.99)
- SCART AV Cable (Europe) (24.99 Euros, 17.99 GBP)
- VGA HD AV Cable ($39.99, 29.99 Euros, 19.99 GBP)
We only hopes those prices rapidly come down as some of them seem rather extortionate, (70 quid will buy you an 80GB notebook hard drive, for example) on the other hand, no one can deny that the Xbox 360 will be supported by a wide range of accessories, even if it will cost over $500 to have all the features many had come to expect would be standard equipment (WiFi and rechargeable wireless controllers in particular). Again, more news as we get it.
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