Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Xbox 360 Price Announced (WTF?)

I'm sure most of you have heard by now, but the Xbox 360 will indeed come in two flavors. The Xbox Core System and the Xbox 360 System. Here are the specs:
Xbox 360 Core System - $299 (299 Euros, 209 GBP)
• Xbox 360 console
• Wired controller
• Detachable faceplate
• Xbox Live Silver membership
• Standard AV cables

Xbox 360 - $399 (399 Euros, 279 GBP)
• Xbox 360 console
• 20GB detachable hard drive
• Wireless controller
• Wireless Xbox Live headset
• High-definition AV cables
• Ethernet cable
• Xbox 360 Media Remote Control (limited time)
• Detachable faceplate
• Xbox Live Silver membership
Also announced were the prices for all the accessories (get ready to scream):
• 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)
Ah, Microsoft, I used to be a big supporter, now I'm not so sure. You do an MTV special to unveil the Xbox 360 and say that it will have a wireless controller and a removable hard drive, but forget to say that you are also thinking of selling a cheaper, wired and with no hard drive model as well. What the hell are you smoking?

One of the Xbox's biggest pros is that it has the hard drive that can quickly access saved games AND keeps the last 3 games put in the game in cache so they run faster. Now you're going to sell a "Core System" without a hard drive? This means that developers can no longer code with the idea that the hard drive is a necessary part of the game, but code it so that the hard drive can be used for such things as caching. This is all in the name of getting the system out for $299.99, the magic price point.

Anyone that knows anything about games is going to go out and buy the $399.99 version of the system. I'm pissed that I have to pay an extra $100 when I was sitting here thinking all along that it would be at the lower price point with the hard drive and wireless controller. That's two games (well, if the $59.99 game price is correct, it is one game and a good chunk for the second game) down the drain because I have to get the upper model. And who the heck made the 20GB hard drive $100 to buy? Are they smoking crack? Do they think the Windows model of pricing works anymore? Microsoft does not control the videogame market like they do the desktop market; they really can't go crazy and start charging mondo bucks for stuff...people just aren't going to buy it.

My initial analysis is that Microsoft has put itself in a corner. People that were excited about it being $300 will now be out two launch games unless they want to pony up extra money beyond what they were originally going to. There is still no date announced, but the Japanese release will supposedly be announced at the Tokyo Show next month. I was excited about the Xbox 360, with the announcement of 2 SKUs the excitement has waned. Sony probably has a big grin on its face as well simply because the $399.99 price point is there for them to also sell a stripped down version of the PS3. If Microsoft had included everything in the $299.99 package Sony would have trouble trying to beat that bang for the buck, now it isn't so hard anymore.