Written by David Stellmack
Friday, 06 March 2009 05:24
Exclusive: Sources tell us that this is the case in some areas
We have been following a rumor that we have been hearing from a couple of our sources that suggests Microsoft may be ending the sale of the Xbox 360 Elite in many parts of the world, with the Elite moving into a more limited edition role in the Xbox 360 console line up.
The story that we are hearing goes something like this…Microsoft will stop taking orders for the Xbox 360 Elite at some point during the second quarter and allow inventory of the Elite consoles to start to run down. The majority of retailers would prefer just a low-end and a high-end console, so this change will be made during the second quarter, which is the fourth fiscal quarter for Microsoft.
Once inventory is depleted, the Elite system will move to more of a limited edition role that will be available only at select retailers, and likely only in North America and Europe. The Elite consoles that will be available in these areas should be more like the recent Resident Evil 5 Red Elite Limited Edition console, rather than the standard Elite package that Microsoft has offered in the past.
It is possible that the price tag on these Elite limited edition consoles could be higher, but they will be themed and likely include a top shelf title like Microsoft is doing with the Resident Evil 5 Red Elite Limited Edition console.
As part of this transition, our sources continue to tell us that Microsoft will begin offering a larger hard drive that is bigger than the 120GB drive that they are currently offering for those that either have an Arcade model and want to add the hard drive or those that have a Pro system and want to upgrade.
The decision to move away from the Elite, according to what we have been hearing, has more to do with money and the economy than it does with anything else. Retailers do not want to stock high-priced Elite systems, which tend to sit on the shelves longer than the Arcade and Pro systems.
In addition, the majority of Elite consoles are sold to hardcore gamers who know that they want an Elite and to that end Microsoft does not need to have every retailer offering the Elite as an option. From what we have been told, with the more Limited Edition format for the Elite, Microsoft can likely make a few more dollars from the console because of its limited edition nature.
While the entire thing is still in the planning process, our sources say that Microsoft has already been working with their assembly partners in Asia on this plan in an effort to finalize it, but only if it makes the best economic sense.
We expect to hear more about this over the next couple of weeks, and as with anything plans could change, but we expect that Microsoft will be watching sales of the Resident Evil 5 Red Elite console bundle closely to confirm if their sales numbers tell them that they should move in this direction. We will let you know more once we hear more.