Seemingly since the beginning of time, man and woman have been willing to paying discounted prices for subsidized hardware with long-term service agreements. It's how the majority of smartphones are sold, and in the dial-up era, you could snag a low-cost PC if you were willing to pay out the nose for blazing fast 56K Internet service. Could the same principle drive Xbox 360 sales? Get ready to find out.
We don't have any official word on this, but according The Verge, which is usually spot-on with its information, Microsoft's is getting ready to sell a subsidized Xbox 360 console package for $99 that includes a 4GB console and Kinect sensor. To qualify for that low price, gamers will have to commit to a 2-year service agreement at $15 per month, which adds an additional $360 to the total cost.
The subscription fee includes Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold service, which normally runs about $60 per year, or around $35 if you shop online deals and take advantage of timely discounts. Streaming cable content and sports packages may also be included in the subscription fee, as well as a 2-year warranty.
Our knee-jerk reaction is that a subsidized Xbox 360 is a clever way of price gouging gamers, but if you run the numbers, this isn't exactly highway robbery, depending on the extras. At face value, a 4GB Xbox 360 console with Kinect hardware costs $300 MSRP, plus another $120 for two years of Xbox Live Gold service. That's a grand total of $420 versus $460 for the long-term subsidized cost with warranty. Depending on the other extras, gamers could potentially break even or come out ahead without the burden of a high upfront investment.
Would you be interested in a subsidized Xbox 360 console as outlined above, or does the value fall too short?