Microsoft announced that three new Xbox 360 bundles will become available starting Oct. 28 at Microsoft Stores and Toys R Us Locations, with Walmart grabbing the packs Oct. 29.
The Xbox 360 bundle will come in three flavors, all of which necessitate the purchase of a two-year Xbox Live Gold subscription for a monthly fee of $14.99 (totaling $360).
There are two $99.99 packages: either a 4GB Xbox 360 with a Kinect accessory, or a standalone 250GB Xbox 360 console.
A third bundle will only be available for a limited time, and includes the 250GB Xbox 360 with Kinect for $149.99.
Let's do the math
As reported by CVG, Microsoft's General Manager for Interactive Entertainment Marketing Matt Barlow told the Wall Street Journal in October that "this type of program is pivotal to [Microsoft's] business."
"We wanted to see if we would get sustained consumer excitement and willingness from partners to get this in retail," he said. Apparently it did.
In reality, only two of those bundles are new; the $99 4GB console with Kinect package was introduced earlier this year in Microsoft Stores and, later, at GameStop and Best Buy locations.
Paying $99 for an Xbox 360 and Kinect, normally $300 together, seems like a good deal. But when the $360 Xbox Live subscription is factored in, customers are actually paying $40 more over that two-year period than if they'd bought those elements separately.
Yes, more math
So how do the two new Xbox 360 bundles add up?
A standalone 250GB Xbox 360 normally costs $249.99 at the Microsoft Store, both online and at physical retail locations. Adding two years of Xbox Live Gold ($60 annually) brings the total to $370.
The new bundle with the same components (standalone 250GB Xbox 360 and two years of Xbox Live Gold) will cost a total of $460. Yikes.
Meanwhile, a 250GB Xbox 360 console bundled with Kinect is currently $349.99. With the normal $120 two-year Xbox Live sub, that's $470 total.
The new limited-time 250GB bundle with Kinect ($150) plus the $15 per month Xbox Live sub ($360 over two years) is $510. Double yikes.
The only advantage is not having to shell out all the money up front. If paying more in the long run is worth it, then some customers may indeed prefer the new, more expensive bundles.
Otherwise, steer clear, no matter how good those initial prices may appear.