Software and online services have long been sold as subscriptions, but what about game consoles?

A report this morning by The Verge, citing anonymous sources, says Microsoft plans to introduce a $99 version of the 4GB Xbox 360, with a Kinect sensor, in conjunction with a two-year subscription of $15/month providing access to the Xbox Live Gold service and additional streaming content.

If it happens, the move would put a new twist into the competition between Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 has been outselling both of its rivals, but the video-game console market overall has been slumping.

Reporting for The Verge, Tom Warren says the new package will be introduced as early as next week.

From a financial perspective, the reported terms would be an interesting proposition for consumers, but not necessarily a good deal over the long run. The same Xbox and Kinect bundle currently sells for $299, and an annual Xbox Live Gold subscription runs $60. That adds up to $420 over two years.

By comparison, the console and subscription package would cost about $460 over the same period.

Microsoft would be counting on the appeal of the lower up-front cost, and also the perceived value of whatever additional streaming services the company would introduce.

No comment yet from Microsoft on the report.

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  • Benstraley

    Smart. This has less to do with games and more to do with getting the XBox+Kinect media platform into as many homes as possible IMO.

  • Guest

    Nice! It’s good to see consoles moving toward the mobile phone route: sell the hardware for little or nothing, make money on the service.

  • Guest

    Probably a good idea. Lets face it, they make nothing on the hardware anyway. So anything they can do to get more users on the service is a plus. Frankly, they should have gone the valve route and made XBL the premier gaming cloud regardless of device. But probably too late now anyway. The future of gaming is now iPhone and iPad, not consoles.

    • Benstraley

      I disagree with the last point. Anyone who has used a Kinect understands it represents a revolution in UI. You need a console for the time being.

      • Guest

        Not sure what one has to do with the other? Kinect-based gaming titles haven’t exactly set the world on fire, particularly compared to the rise in mobile gaming.

    • Richard Hay

      There is absolutely no way to replicate the console gaming experience on an iPhone or iPad or any other smart phone.

      • Guest

        Future of gaming != trying to replicate the past.

  • समीर शाह

    Do not limit it to stores, GO ALL OUT. GO ONLINE.

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