Microsoft extends Xbox 360 price cut to the US

With the unmistakable thunder of another shoe dropping, Microsoft announced Wednesday evening that it is dropping the prices of its three Xbox 360 bundles -- the Arcade, "Console," and Elite -- in the US.

The basic 256 MB "Arcade" game console package drops to the $199.99 mark, in a new pricing initiative that begins this Friday. The 20 GB hard drive unit sinks in price to $299.99, and the Elite 120 GB model drops to $399.99.

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The move comes in response to Sony's price realignment for its PlayStation 3, announced last month. Rather than an outright price drop, Sony chose to endow its marketing tiers with higher capacity and more bundling features. PS3 bundles currently sell in the US for $399 and $499; and Microsoft's high-end bundle now sells for the price of Sony's low-end bundle.

Contrary to reports, free subscriptions to Xbox Live service are not being bundled with Microsoft's three tiers, although the wording of this evening's press release could easily be misinterpreted to give that impression.

One important excerpt from that statement is this: "Xbox 360 Arcade plus a 12-month Xbox LIVE Gold Membership and a Netflix subscription costs $100 less than 12 months of digital cable."

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