have cited unconfirmed reports from Walmart employees in revealing that the North American retail price for Xbox 360 will be US$299.99. Also unconfirmed is a street date of 4th November.
Naturally, this price remains speculation at this point, and does little more than confirm the price point we all believe will be officially announced by Microsoft later this year.
In fact, there have been whispers that Microsoft may end the speculation by announcing pricing at the massive Leipzig GC games show
to be held on 18th-21st August. Leipzig is now the biggest show of its type in Europe, and is probably only beaten in size by the Tokyo Game Show and naturally E3.
Of perhaps greater interest is the suggestion, again wholly unsubstantiated, that launch titles like Perfect Dark Zero and Project Gotham Racing 3
will be priced above existing price points, at US$59.99. Optimists will conclude that the extra 10 bucks is to cover the increased production costs of developing High Definition games. Pessimists will see it as little more than cashing in on early adopters.
UK pricing is also still under wraps, and depending on the exchange rate, could range anywhere from a direct conversion of £199 to a soul-destroying one-to-one rate of £299. Similarly, games may range from £34.99 to possibly as high as £49.99.
For those who haven't been following the saga thus far, Microsoft are expected to launch Xbox 360 this November, while Sony aren't expected to launch PlayStation 3 until Spring 2006 at the earliest. In an attempt to foil their rival's launch, Sony will reportedly slash the price of PlayStation 2
to as low as £60 / $100 this Christmas.
If Microsoft launch at US$299 as expected, and £199-£299 in the UK, they will have a clear 3 month head start on Sony, with all the benefits of a pre-Christmas launch, as well as cards up their sleeves. Sony Computer Entertainment president Ken Kutaragi has said he isn't interested in Playstation 3 being affordable. "Our ideal [for the PS3] is for consumers to think to themselves, 'OK, I'll work more hours and buy it.' We want people to feel that they want it, no matter what."
The cost of manufacture for a PlayStation 3 may be as high as US$490, meaning a US$100 loss even if PS3 is launched at US$399 - a third more than Xbox 360, as we reported earlier
. If Microsoft choose to tighten the screws further, they will execute a rumoured price drop in 2006 when Sony launch, further widening the price differential.