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Microsoft Confirms Pricing, Multiple Xbox 360 Launch Choices

After months of speculation, Microsoft has now officially confirmed the price of the Xbox 360 console at the Leipzig, Germany-based Game Convention. The console will actu...
After months of speculation, Microsoft has now officially confirmed the price of the Xbox 360 console at the Leipzig, Germany-based Game Convention. The console will actually launch with two different versions in North America, one priced at $299 and the other at $399. An exact release date is still unknown, but is described as “this holiday season”. The $299 version of the Xbox 360 will ship with a wired controller, faceplate and console itself. The $399 version will include Xbox Live Silver membership, a wireless controller in place of the wired one, a headset, an Ethernet cable, and a wireless television remote control for a limited time, and also adds a 20Gb removable hard drive. Microsoft's official release comments that "the hard drive allows gamers to store their games, music, downloaded trailers, levels, demos and community-created content from Xbox Live Marketplace", but makes it clear that it is an optional peripheral. However the absence of free Xbox Live Silver membership for the base version of the console means that an additional memory card or hard drive peripheral purchase is required to access Xbox Live on the 360. Although the relatively high price of the $399 version and the reality of two launch variants of the same console has been met with surprise in some quarters, it is well in-line with previous comments made by Microsoft executives, and the $299 launch pricing for the base console compares relatively well with console launch price points in recent memory. Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer for Microsoft took the announcement opportunity to clearly emphase Microsoft's tack that the console is not just for games, commenting: "While the system has the muscle to power awe-inspiring graphics, audio and online play, it's also got the intelligence to serve as a one-of-a-kind entertainment device that plays CDs, DVDs, MP3s and digital content from an array of devices, including portable music players and digital cameras." As for launch details in other territories, European prices for the console have also been confirmed at €299.99 ($368) for Continental Europe and £209.99 ($380) for the United Kingdom for the base version of the Xbox 360, and €399 ($490) in Continental Europe and £279.99 ($507) for the United Kingdom for the 'deluxe' bundled version of Microsoft's console. Japanese pricing and other launch details for the Xbox 360 have not yet been available available, but the company has confirmed it will make these available at the Tokyo Game Show in mid-September. Finally, the company unveiled full information on its peripheral line, many of which are included in the 'deluxe' version of the Xbox 360 hardware bundle. The detachable 20gb hard drive can also be bought separately for $99.99 (€99.99/£69.99), and a small 64mb memory unit for portable save games and gamer profile will retail for $39.99 (€34.99/£22.99). In addition, the deluxe-bundled wireless controller, which "features the Xbox Guide Button for quick access to digital movies, music and games libraries as well as a range and battery life of up to 30 feet and 30 hours of life on two AA batteries", will retail for $49.99 (€44.99/£32.99). There is also a 'play and charge' kit to make the wireless controller wired and remove the need for batteries, at a cost of $19.99 (€19.99/£14.99), and a less expensive still stand-alone wireless battery for $11.99 (€14.99/£9.99). Other peripherals announced include a wireless networking adaptor, so that "gamers can chat with friends and play games via Xbox Live, as well as stream videos and music to Xbox 360 from a Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005-based PC, all without the clutter of wires", for $99.99 (€79.99/£59.99). An Xbox Live-compatible headset will retail for $19.99 (€19.99/£14.99), and a high-quality S-Video (for North America) or SCART (for Europe) video cable for $24.99 (€24.99/£17.99). Finally, a VGA HD AV cable for monitors or other VGA devices will debut for $39.99 (€29.99/£19.99). [UPDATED: 8.28am PST - added full launch pricing for accessories.]

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