Rumours point to subscription-based cut-price Xbox 720 launch
Suggested selling prices for Microsoft's next-generation games console leak out ahead of the formal unveiling, suggesting a subscription model
Additional details about how Microsoft may price its upcoming Xbox 720 games console have leaked ahead of the device's unveiling later this month, pointing to a smartphone-like subscription model for those who can't afford the full asking price.
A source speaking to Paul Thurrott claims to have insider information as to how Microsoft plans to launch the console, which may carry the moniker Xbox Infinity or just Xbox when it is released at retail. According to the unnamed source, Microsoft is planning a two-tier pricing system which puts the cost of buying the console at a fairly hefty $499 - or around £384 including VAT in the UK, which Microsoft would likely round up into a £399 recommended retail price.
For those who can't afford to drop nearly £400 on a next-generation console, Turrott's source confirms earlier rumours that Microsoft would launch a subscription-based console as well. Costing just $299, the console would feature the same capabilities as its more expensive equivalent but come with a $15 a month (around £11.56) subscription charge. For that, users have access to the company's Xbox Live service - but unlike those who paid for the more expensive model, they will be committed to stay with the service for 2 years.
It's a similar model to how smartphones are sold: the cost of the handset is subsidised by the mobile network on the understanding that the user agrees to a monthly contract for a period of time. It's also something Microsoft has tried in the past, launching a cut-price $99 Xbox 360 with the same $15 subscription fee in order to boost sales over the rival Nintendo Wii console.
Designed to compete with Sony's PlayStation 4, and to a lesser extent with the less powerful Nintendo Wii U, Microsoft's Xbox 720 is claimed to include a raft of impressive features including a powerful PC-style accelerated processing unit, backwards compatibility with existing Xbox 360 titles, an improved Kinect depth-sensing camera system and even the ability to run as a set-top box thanks to an HDMI passthrough system.
Thus far, however, Microsoft has been silent on which of these various rumours are true and which merely wishful thinking - something it intends to correct at a press event on the 21st of May, when the device will be announced ahead of the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) in June.