Speculation over the price of Microsoft's forthcoming Xbox 360 console was fuelled today by new reports from the continent mooting a 349 Euro figure, supporting reports that the system will come in at UKP 249 in Britain.
The figure, reported by German website GameFront, reportedly originates with Austrian distributors who describe it as a "noncommittal" figure received from Microsoft - but implied that the trade price (i.e. the amount that retailers will pay Microsoft directly to stock it) provides enough leeway that some shops may offer the console at 299 Euro.
The 349 Euro figure would translate almost directly to the UKP 249 price point which is currently expected in the UK, although persistent rumours suggest that Microsoft may see itself has having a little more leeway in its pricing since Ken Kutaragi began telling people at every opportunity that the PS3 is going to be very expensive.
The whole situation is made even more confusing by the fact that a number of US analysts now expect the console to roll out in multiple versions, with a basic model shipping at $299 and a more comprehensive bundle at $399.
Piper Jaffray analyst Tony Gikas yesterday mooted the dual-model strategy, saying that he expects the high-end model to boast a hard drive, additional controller and memory unit, among other things; while American Technology Research analyst PJ McNealy opined that the $299 model will not feature a hard drive, with a hard drive equipped bundle being sold for $60 to $99 more.
Both suggestions are slightly surprising, however, since Microsoft has included a 20Gb hard drive in the official specification for the system, which we would expect even the basic machine to meet.
What's perhaps more likely is that a more expensive bundle may be offered with a larger hard drive - perhaps 60Gb or 80Gb - and a bundle of extra components such as the wireless networking kit for the console. Microsoft has already indicated that higher capacity drives will be made available as accessories for Xbox 360 at some point.