If you've been saving your pennies to buy a Kinect for your Microsoft Xbox 360 when it launches in November but are tired of chasing a moving price tag target, then you can relax. The announcement came today that Kinect will set you back $150. If you're currently Xboxless and want to get in on the action, then $300 will get you a newly redesigned console with 4 GB of onboard flash memory and a Kinect. Both retail packages come with a copy of Kinect Adventures. Wired GameLife has the news. Here's a bit of their coverage regarding the new bundle and how it relates to the existing Xbox 360 Arcade model that is currently on the way out.
Introducing a $200 version of the Xbox 360, the price point at which analysts believe most consoles are sold, is important to Microsoft’s appeal to the mass market. Xbox 360 saw high sales in June, thanks in part to the new console design but mostly because Microsoft is clearing older models from retail stores at heavy discounts. The Arcade Xbox 360 model, which the new low-end version will replace, is currently selling for $150.
Microsoft direct of product management Aaron Greenberg says the stock of Arcade models won’t last long. “They’re moving quite quickly,” he said. “We always have that transition overlap time period, but doing it over the summer should leave us pretty clean well in advance of the holiday.”
The only disadvantage to the new Xbox model is that Microsoft won’t be selling standalone hard drives yet. The 4-GB console includes a slot for a hard drive, but none will be on shelves. Greenberg pointed out that users can expand their storage by using USB sticks of up to 32 GB. Microsoft doesn’t imagine customers will buy the 4-GB unit and then immediately want to add a 250-GB hard drive. “You’d have to be pretty bad at making decisions” to do that, Greenberg said.
Considering the technology at work in the Kinect and all of the time and money spent developing it, $150 is probably a fair price. However, will the market go for it? Expensive aftermarket console add-ons traditionally don't sell very well, although most of my reference points are from console generations long gone by. Does the fact that the Sega CD and 32X left underwhelming marks in sales history mean anything almost twenty years later? Probably not. We'll all be watching to see how well Kinect performs at retail, but keep this in mind: if the industry discovers that the market is open and enthusiastic about a $150 add-on, expect to see more such costly accessories in the future across all consoles. That's a dark cloud for a future day, however. In the short term, here's hoping that the Kinect finds its audience. Anything that introduces video games into the lives of more people is always a good thing.