Microsoft has expanded its Xbox 360 discount program -- for those willing to pay for a monthly online subscription as well.
The company announced on its Xbox page recently that customers will soon be able to buy the 250GB Xbox 360 for $99 and the 250GB Xbox 360 with Kinect for $149. The 250GB console without Kinect usually retails for $299.99. Adding Kinect to the mix pushes the price to $399.99.
So, what's the catch? Microsoft's reduced pricing is part of an expansion to its already offered discounts on the 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect. Announced in May, that offer allowed customers to get the bundle for $99, so long as they signed up for an Xbox Live Gold membership for a period of two years. The Gold membership costs $14.99 per month.
Microsoft is offering the same deal on its other product options.
While the deal might make sense for those who plan on connecting to Xbox Live to play video games online, those who have no interest in that probably shouldn't take Microsoft's bait. At $15 per month, Xbox Live Gold membership adds $180 per year in additional cost. Over two years, that pushes the price of any of the Xbox 360 options to $360 plus the price of the console. Without investing in Xbox Live Gold, customers would save a considerable amount of cash.
The important story here is that Microsoft is thinking outside the box. For years, companies have been selling consoles for a single price and leaving it at that. Microsoft is trying to change that by selling its hardware at a discount in the hopes of making more cash on the backend with services. It's an interesting move.
Previously, Microsoft only offered its discounted pricing at its own branded stores and a few select retailers. On a page announcing the program's expansion, Microsoft says that customers will learn soon which retailers will participate in the discounts, indicating that more stores will probably offer the deals.
Microsoft has yet to announce when its special pricing will be available, but the company says on its Web site that it plans to offer up more details "soon."