What started as a rumour is now confirmed - as of August 8th, the Xbox 360 will be available for its lowest official retail price since launch, timed to coincide with the release of Madden 08. However, Microsoft has made it clear that this only applies to the US, for now.
The "Premium" console, which comes bundled with a wireless controller, headset and 20GB harddrive will see a $US50 cut, from $US399.99 (approx $AU470/GBP200) to $US349.99 (approx $AU410/GBP170). The "Core" console, which only comes with the console itself, looks to remain in circulation a little longer with Microsoft offering a $US20 drop, taking it from $US299.99 (approx $AU350/GBP150) to $US279.99 (approx $AU330/GBP140). This puts it within $US30 of the Wii, which retails at $US249.99 (approx $AU290/GBP120), but also comes packed with Wii Sports.
Despite only being released in the US, the Xbox 360 Elite model, an Xbox 360 with a HDMI port and 120GB harddrive, drops $US30 to $US449.99 (approx $AU560/GBP235). A European release is planned later this month, but no Australian release has yet been announced. The Halo 3 Xbox 360 is also due to launch in the US in September, retailing for $US399.99 and built similarly to the Premium console. Notable differences include the Spartan green-and-gold visual appearance, the inclusion of a HDMI port, and the bundling of a play and charge kit.
"The fact that we have been able to keep our launch price longer than any other console while retaining our leadership position demonstrates that consumers believe in the value of Xbox 360," said Mitch Koch, corporate vice president, Global Retail Sales and Marketing Group, Entertainment and Devices Division at Microsoft. "On the eve of the best holiday games lineup ever and the launch of Madden NFL 08, there has never been a better time to jump into Xbox 360."
Will this price cut extend to the rest of the world and/or Australia? A Microsoft spokesperson said this to IGN, "This is an announcement out of the US for the North American market. If we have any local announcements to make, we'll be sure to let you know." If a price cut does eventuate for Australia, we'll be sure to let you know about it.