Yesterday Microsoft revealed that it planned to sell what it calls the Xbox 360 Core System for £209.99 / EUR299.99. That's an incredibly low price point for a new console launch, but it does represent a severe compromise: no hard disk; nothing in fact other than a regular wired controller, standard AV cable (presumably composite with a SCART block) and the basic "chill" (white) Faceplate.
The alternative, what you might consider the "true" Xbox 360, costs £279.99 / EUR399.99. Microsoft revealed that a great many extras would be bundled with this version.
First of all, the 20GB hard disk - for storing games, music, trailers, levels, demos and custom content. The decision to make this an option has become a point of some contention already, with many critics citing the poor level of support for the PlayStation 2's Hard Disk Adapter, which never really took off - and never even saw release in Europe as a result.
Those opting for the version without a hard disk will surely be unable to take advantage of the system's backwards compatibility. We already know that Xbox 1 support will be limited to some degree, but this kind of impediment is cause for concern.
Other items in the £279.99 package include the wireless controller - Microsoft's answer to Nintendo's popular WaveBird GameCube controller - as well as the television-style Media Remote control for playing back DVDs, music and other multimedia functions. There will also be a removable Faceplate, which can be swapped out with others of the user's choosing - these are expected to retail for £14.99 each.
Fans of Xbox Live will be pleased to find a Silver membership bundled, allowing access to chat facilities, voice and text messaging, trailers, demos, and games from Xbox Live Arcade; as well as a headset. It appears that the Gold membership, which opens the door to online play, will be sold separately.
Finally, there's a component HD-AV cable, which will allow owners of high-definition television sets to hook their kit up right from the word go - without the need to purchase expensive additional cabling. This will also include a SCART block for those without components inputs on their TV.
That said, it does appear that some of us will be expected to pay slightly more for our cabling needs. Here is a point-by-point breakdown of pricing for Xbox 360 peripherals:
- Faceplates - £14.99
- Controller (wired) - £24.99
- Component HD-AV Cable - £19.99
- Hard Drive (20GB) - £69.99
- Memory Unit (64MB) - £22.99
- Wireless Controller - £32.99
- Play & Charge Kit (for recharging Wireless Controller while playing) - £14.99
- Rechargeable battery pack - £9.99
- Wireless Networking Adapter - £59.99
- Headset - £14.99
- Universal Media Remote - £19.99
- SCART AV Cable - £17.99
- VGA HD-AV Cable - £19.99
So, those wanting to plug in to a PC monitor can for another £19.99 (RGB SCART will be catered for by a SCART adapter to plug onto the HD-AV Cable - so the £17.99 SCART AV will not be essential as previously suggested). And those who need the wireless networking functionality to make the most of the system will need to shell out another £59.99.
In other words, the £279.99 Xbox 360 package includes more value than any new console bundle has in recent memory at launch - and at a price £20 lower than expected - but the decision to unbundle certain elements is likely to cost people a few extra quid into the bargain.
Xbox 360 is expected to launch in Europe in late November, although a final date has yet to be confirmed by Microsoft.