Microsoft to subsidize Xbox 360 + Kinect with $15 monthly subscription

Sales of consoles have been stagnating in recent months for all of the big players in the games industry. While the Xbox 360 continues to beat its console rivals, its sales are still down, a fact that it reported in its most recent quarterly figures. Little surprise then that Microsoft has been looking at ways to give sales of its console a kick in the pants.

But the company’s plans to do that will surely come as a surprise to just about everyone. The Verge reports that Microsoft is planning to launch an entirely new model to stimulate sales, with a low upfront cost, subsidised by a two-year monthly subscription.

The new deal, which could launch as soon as next week, according to unnamed sources, will see Microsoft provide a 4GB console with a Kinect sensor via Microsoft Stores, for $99. Currently, that bundle costs $299. Buyers would be locked into a two-year $15-a-month contract, which would also provide them with an Xbox LIVE Gold subscription, as well as a two-year hardware warranty. There may also be some inclusive content deals with cable and sports programming providers.

Microsoft is said to be aiming the package at buyers considering the Apple TV, Roku and – of course- the PlayStation 3.

We’ll have to wait for a formal announcement to firm up the details, of course, but for now this sounds like a pretty spicy prospect, and a great way to encourage buyers to jump into a new console purchase without the hurdle of an imposing one-off upfront cost. As ever, time will tell if the plan yields the results that Microsoft is hoping for – but if it’s true, the company must surely be commended for trying something new.

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