08 May 2012

If you feel like being locked into a monthly subscription plan with Microsoft over 2 years, you can get a $99 Xbox 360 bundle the rumors were true.  Microsoft is offering a subsidized $99 bundle that includes a 4GB Xbox 360 and Kinect sensor to anyone that commits to a two years of a new $14.99 per month online service.  It is already being offered in some Microsoft stores but is it worth its weight in Xbox Live Gold?

Xbox the Full Service Station

The new subscription plan puts Microsoft in the track of the Xbox as a full-service entertainment center with its live cable services and other new applications.  This is a direction Microsoft has been moving in now for years and many of the entertainment applications on the Xbox have become more popular than online gaming with the Xbox 360.

Available Now via Microsoft

There are 17 Microsoft Stores in US States that are offering the new promotion with four more listed as "coming soon."  Microsoft is offering the two year contract of Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 per month with the added benefit of getting the 4GB Xbox 360 S and Kinect add-on for $99 USD.

Breaking Down the Cost

If you break down the two-year cost for this bundle it rings in at $459, compare that to spending the money up front at around $380.  Particularly if you search the internet and find cheaper prices on Xbox Live Gold, bringing the cost down. 

Examples from Amazon include:

Read the Fine Print

If you scan the terms and conditions on the agreement there is no mention of an extended warranty which was rumored.  The standard warranty most likely applies and that is 1 year on the console and 90 days on accessories.  Microsoft will also charge you $132 if you decide to quit before the 2 year period ends.

You must also keep your Xbox Live account in good standing throughout the subscription.  In particular if you violate the Xbox Live Terms of Use you would lose your Live account and have to pay the early termination fee immediately.  Usually this means don't mod your console and go online but there are stories in the wild of people being terminated for other or no reasons.

The Tech-Stew Take Home

This move by Microsoft makes some sense.  It gives Microsoft a chance to spread into other areas giving them a stronger foothold in the entertainment market, rather than just locked into gaming.  It does change how console are seen to consumers as well.  The real question is whether or not consumers will go for this type of option. 

The biggest issue with this bundle is perhaps its timing.  Microsoft is possibly going to release a new console most likely by the end of next year.  Would a consumer want to get locked into old technology for two years with a new one possibly coming in one year?  Perhaps we will see upgrade options on the contract similar to cell phones, giving the consumer the option to move to the newest system.  If the new Xbox system that is released has compatibility with older generation games then this new subscription isn't such a bad move in the long term, but compatibility as of right now is unknown and maybe unlikely.  This is not to say that the new bundle subscription is necessarily a bad deal, consumers should just be aware of what they are really paying in the long run so they can make an informed decision on the purchase.

Source:  Microsoft Store

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