You may remember that the Xbox 360 was offered via a “subscription” of sorts recently. The idea was you paid either $99 or $149 up front for a 360 or a 360 with a Kinect, and then signed up for two years of Gold at $15 a month.
Gamers and industry analysts were a bit skeptical at the time that the plan would work. But apparently it worked well enough that Microsoft is rolling it out to a lot of retailers… and bumping up the hard drive capacity into the bargain.
The deal is now $99 for a 250GB Xbox 360, and $149 for the same plus a Kinect. Those who think they won’t use 250GB can still get a 4GB with Kinect for $99 as well. Furthermore, the previous plan had only been offered in Microsoft Stores and in limited quantities at Best Buy: Now it’s going to be a lot more retailers if Microsoft’s site for the deal is any indication.
I’m of two minds about this. If this really takes off and pushes even more 360s than are already sold, and Microsoft has pushed 70 million of them, then we can expect Sony to follow suit. Nintendo, for various reasons, will never do this. It may also be an attempt to price down the cost of consoles to make them appeal to more consumers: After all $300 is a hell of a lot to invest in anything, especially if you mostly want it for streaming media. This means more people playing games, especially since price points have become more fluid: If a publisher has to choose between used sales and $20 digital downloads… they’ll take more of the latter.
On the other hand, it will also increase losses on consoles, motivating console makers to get us to subscribe to their services and download their games by any means necessary. If you hate free-to-play games, this is probably not the best news you’ll get today.
Either way, though, this will lead to more people playing games, which can only be a good thing, what with the Tom Coburns of the world and all.