in General, Tech

Xbox 360 – Taking my money elsewhere

Today Microsoft announced its price points and accessory list for the upcoming Xbox 360. I’m now almost certain I won’t be buying one. Here’s one of many stories on the announcement. “Major Nelson”, who heads up the Xbox Live program, has more details, but his site is getting hammered at the moment.

My current Xbox has given me many happy hours of gaming with friends and online. While I have no doubt that the 360 would do the same, in the end the pricing is just prohibitive for me.

In order to preserve some semblance of a low price point, Microsoft is going with two versions of the console: One at $399, and another at $299. Here’s what you get for the extra $100 that the cheaper version doesn’t include:

-Wireless controller instead of wired
-20GB hard drive
-Fancier A/V cable
-Remote Control for DVD playback
-Ethernet cable

In all, really not a bad package for just $100 more. While expensive, I could still see myself possibly paying $399. But the killer for me is the accessory prices.

$50 for an extra controller? $20 for a simple snap-on decorative faceplate? But the biggest problem is the pricing on the wireless adapter. Playing games online with the 360 over wireless will cost you an extra $100. Simply outrageous! I recently bought a wireless router AND a card for my laptop for $70.

And in the end, those without the hard drive will be hurt. I’ve seen unconfirmed statements from people who work at Microsoft that the drive will be required to play online. If true, they are in effect buying a system that is crippled just out of the box.

So let’s say I want to play a game with a friend online at launch day. Here’s what I’d have to spend:
System – $399
Extra controller – $50
Game – $50 (estimated)
Wireless adapter – $100

Total – $599

Simply out of my price range.

Plus, Microsoft has fractured the market. Are game developers going to make games that use every ability of the 360, when they know that some system owners will be unable to play the resulting product? No, they’ll code to the lowest common denominator.

Just a few hours ago, Microsoft almost certainly had my money in their pockets. Now I’m in the “wait and see” camp, and leaning towards not buying it at all.

I’d reserved $350 in my budget for the purchase of a new system this fall. The Playstation Portable is looking much more attractive this morning.

For consideration: This kind of pricing structure is also going to put a damper on the library gaming programs that have been gaining momentum lately.