Microsoft has announced that it will be expanding its pilot program
of offering $99 Xbox 360 Kinect consoles with a 2-year contract commitment. Beginning later this month, every Best Buy store and select Gamestop locations will be offering the $99 4GB consoles complete with Kinect. The catch of course, is that you’ll be locked in to paying $14.99/month for two years of Xbox LIVE Gold as well. Doing the math, you’re still better off purchasing your console outright:
$299.99 Xbox 360 Kinect Console + two years of gold @ $59.99/year = $419.97
$99 Xbox 360 Kinect Console + two years of gold @ $14.99/month = $458.76
This contract program lowers your initial entry fee, however, an important factor in a buying decision. This plan is set up similar to a cell phone plan, by providing hardware cheap and earning profits later with their service. The contract includes an early termination fee, so don’t think you can scam Microsoft to get a Kinect and console for $100. A wrench to throw into these equations is the $99 Xbox 360 comes with a two-year warranty, which is an entire year longer. Then of course you have to consider that value conscious shoppers often pay less than $60/year for their gold subscription.
Previously this program was limited to the handful of Microsoft retail stores scattered about the United States. Now though, it will be offered at the nearly 1,000 Best Buy
stores stateside, in addition to an unspecified amount among the 1,000s of Gamestop
stores. Despite the expansion this is still being considered a “pilot program” according to Microsoft. This opens up the door to the possibility of the program being offered at more retailers in the future, and perhaps other regions as well. Whether this is the future of console economics or fails to take off and ends up getting shelved remains to be seen. With the addition of Best Buy and Gamestop though, it’s clear that this is gaining some steam.