And just when you thought there couldn't possibly be any more different trim lines for the Xbox 360, Microsoft goes and releases the worst kept secret in all of gaming, the Xbox 360 Arcade. While it's essentially just a souped-up version of the Core, the Arcade 360 does come with a few extras that may attract some uninformed buyers. Plus, the $280 price tag is awfully close to the Wii's cost of $250--so in theory, speaking in terms of price, an Xbox 360 Arcade would be the logical alternative to a Wii this holiday season.
So what does it come with? Bundled inside you'll find a wireless controller, unlike the Core's original wired offering, HDMI-out support, a 256MB memory card, and five Xbox Live Arcade games (Pac-Man Championship Edition, Uno, Luxor 2, Boom Boom Rocket, and Feeding Frenzy). All this in an effort to get consumers more familiar with Xbox Live Arcade and what it has to offer.
The price is certainly right, but here's why I don't think you should even bother with it. If you ever plan on gaming beyond a few Xbox Live Arcade titles, you'll most certainly need a hard drive attachment--256MB can only keep you afloat for so long. Think about it: no room for game demos, Marketplace content, or for ripping your music. Hell, you can only fit a limited number of Arcade titles on a 256MB flash card as it is. Upgrading to a 20GB hard drive after the fact will cost you no less than $90, which would bring your Xbox 360 Arcade price up to $370.
My solution is that you take advantage of the excellent value that is the traditional Xbox 360 with the 20GB hard drive available for $350. This will remove the need for adding a larger hard drive in the immediate future, plus it will give you the option of choosing which Xbox Live Arcade games you want to download instead of getting stuck with the five that the 360 Arcade console comes with. Some retailers are even offering an Xbox 360 Pro Bundle for $350 that includes Marvel Alliance and Forza 2 in addition to the Xbox 360 premium--a deal tough to argue with.
I understand that Microsoft is trying to get the word out about Xbox Live Arcade, but they could do so without selling you a debilitated system. At this point in the game, there's no reason any console should have less than ample storage space straight out of the box. If the whole point is to get people to check out Xbox Live Arcade and the Marketplace, why give them a system capable of only delivering a small taste? I'm sure most gamers are wise enough to see the foolishness in purchasing one of these systems, it just upsets me to see that Microsoft is marketing this SKU as a family console. Oh no wait, now I get it.