Microsoft announces Kinect pricing

Outs 4GB slim Xbox 360 Arcade

THE MUCH ANTICIPIATED pricing for Microsoft’s “casual gamer” accessory – Kinect – for the Xbox 360 has been announced today and, as predicted, the motion controller will retail for $149.99 on its own. However, that’s only half of today’s news as Microsoft also announced the new slim Xbox 360 Arcade which was leaked by a few days ago.

The Arcade version of the slim Xbox 360 comes with a mere 4GB of built in flash memory, although this is 16 times more memory than the current (or old if you wish) Xbox 360 Arcade. The new Arcade model will retail for $199.99 and it should be available from the 3rd of August. That’s still $50 more than the white, chubby Arcade is currently retailing for.

Microsoft also announced a new bundle which consists of the new Arcade console, Kinect and the game Kinect Adventures. This bundle will retail for $299.99 when it launches on the 4th of November. At $300 this is a very expensive bundle for “casual gamers” which is who Microsoft is trying to target with Kinect. We’re not sure how popular this bundle will be, but it’s at least a better option than buying the two separately.

The standalone Kinect unit will also come with Kinect Adventures in the box and Microsoft intends to charge $49.99 for additional games such as Kinectimals, Kinect Sports, Kinect Joy Ride and Dance Central. Again hardly what you’d consider casual gamer pricing, but as with all things new, there’s a price to pay to claim a first.

As much as we can see what Microsoft is trying to achieve with Kinect, we doubt it’ll be anywhere near as popular as the company is hoping. A $150 “accessory” that is currently only working with a very limited amount of rather unimpressive games with a few exceptions isn’t going to sell like hotcakes.

The new Arcade version of the console might prove to be a bad move by Microsoft as well, especially as the $299.99 250GB Xbox 360 slim only appears to offer one advantage – the hard drive. The Arcade still features built in 802.11n Wi-Fi and it has the same connectivity options as the 250GB model. On top of that, if you’re the adventurous type and own an older Xbox 360 console, you can actually take the hard drive from it – which includes voiding any warranty that’s left – by opening the proprietary case it comes in and simply take out the 2.5-inch SATA drive and slot it into the new Arcade console. It won’t be a perfect fit, but it’s already been verified to work, as the new consoles have an internal SATA connector.

Microsoft is going to be forced to drop the price of the Kinect accessory to at least $99 for it to have a reasonable chance to become a popular option, at least if Microsoft is serious about reaching casual gamers and families. $300 is a lot of money for most people and although the bundle does save $50 compared to buying the console and Kinect separately, it’s still a tad on the expensive side, especially compared to Nintendo’s Wii which is retailing for $199.99, usually in a bundle with a game or two. The Wii might not sport the graphics abilities of the Xbox 360, nor the same kind of interactivity as Kinect offers, but it does have a lot more games that are suitable for casual gamers than the Xbox 360.S|A

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