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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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