On the eve of the video gaming industry's biggest trade show, Microsoft has temporarily cut the price of its mid-level Xbox 360, paving the way for a slightly revised version of the console that will cost as much as the old version. In other words, this week's price cut is available only while supplies last.
Here's what's happening: Microsoft currently sells three models of the Xbox 360. On the low end is the Xbox 360 Arcade, which eschews a hard drive for a 256 MB memory card; the Xbox 360 Arcade retails for $280, about $30 more than the market leader Nintendo Wii. In the middle is the awkwardly and eponymously titled Xbox 360, which to date has shipped with a 20 GB hard drive for $350. And on the high end, Microsoft sells a black-clad Xbox 360 Elite for $450: This unit comes with a 120 GB hard drive.
While supplies last, customers in the US will be able to purchase the 20 GB version of the mid-level Xbox 360 for about $300, a $50 price drop. However, that unit will be replaced in the next month or so by a version with a 60 GB hard drive. This new mid-level Xbox 360 is otherwise mechanically identical to its predecessor and will sell for the old $350 price.
So it's not really a price cut: Microsoft is just getting rid of inventory to make way for a slightly revised console that will sell at the same price. But if you've been looking for Microsoft to place its Xbox 360 a bit closer to the price of the Wii, you've got it. Temporarily.