Since Halo did quite well for them, Microsoft has always made a point of supporting big Xbox releases, even if they're actually third party titles. As such it wasn't too surprising this morning when we heard about a new Xbox Live Starter Kit bundle featuring Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow. With the game set to debut on Xbox next week - the PC version following a week later, and PS2/Cube versions a ways off - the new Starter Kit will cost just £59.99 / 89.99 and consists of a 12 month subscription to the online service, an Xbox Communicator headset, and a copy of Pandora Tomorrow.
Microsoft has launched some pretty impressive Live sweeteners in the past, but we dare say this is its shrewdest offering to date - bundling online kit with a game that will be tremendously popular on the strength of its single-player component alone. When gamers have had enough of dying repeatedly in the shadows, venturing online could well prove an enticing prospect, and a full Starter Kit bundle is much more use than a two-month voucher like the ones bundled with big releases towards the end of 2003.
Assuming Pandora Tomorrow sells like we expect it to, this new Starter Kit package could well have a big influence on Microsoft's quest for one million Live subscribers by the end of June 2004. In any event, a headset can be remarkably useful in plenty of circumstances - particularly when your flatmate walks in and tells you to stop shouting at the TV. "I was shouting at some bloke in Utah!" is clearly a superior response to "Yes, I am sorry. Did you take the rubbish out?"