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Microsoft drops XBOX price by a quarter

Microsoft today made its much-anticipated announcement that it is lowering the estimated retail price for its Xbox 360 family of consoles in Europe and South Africa by up to 25%. Now, with an entry-level machine at a shade under R2000, and the Pro version at just under R3000, it is expected to give the likes of the Nintendo Wii an even bigger run for its money. Here are the new pricing details…

From this Friday, wannabe South African XBOX owners struggling with their budgets will be up to a quarter of the way closer to their goal: all XBOX 360 consoles are coming down in price by as much as 25%.

From 14 March 2008, Xbox 360 Pro, which includes a 20GB hard drive and one wireless controller, will have an estimated retail price (ERP) of R2999, a saving of R700 (just under 20%) on the current price. The Xbox 360 Elite, which comes with a massive 120GB hard drive enabling consumers to store huge quantities of content, such as their own music, will only drop R600 from its current R4600 price tag (13% drop), down to R3999.

The biggest proportionate saving comes with the Xbox 360 Arcade console, an entry-level machine aimed at those wishing to make their first foray into the world of Xbox. From its current price of R2700, just below the cost of the Nintendo Wii, it will drop R700 in price, down to R1999 (a 25% drop).

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The pricing is a clear shot across the bows of Nintendo, which has been eating up market share with the Wii. Although the latter can’t match the graphics of the XBOX, its leadership in interactive technologies has also made it a market leader in South Africa. While its being graphics-challenged means it is not officially a ‚next-generation console‚ , it is still counted among the NG devices.

The new pricing means that the entry level XBOX comes in at well under the Wii pricing, and the Wii now finds itself competing for price with the Xbox 360 Pro ‚ a far more formidable opponent.

Micirosoft claims Xbox 360 is the number one next-gen console in EMEA, owning 42% of the market in terms of life-to-date revenue. Xbox 360 continues to enjoy the highest software attach rate of any game console in Europe with more than 7 games sold per console (PS3: 3.8: Wii 3.5) after 26 months on the market.

Microsoft says the new ERPs are part of its strategy ‚to open up the ultimate in high-definition gaming and entertainment to an even wider audience, with an offering for everyone‚ . It says there will be over 1000 games available on Xbox 360 by the end of the year.

‚Xbox 360 is now mass market in Europe and South Africa,‚ said Chris Lewis, Vice President, Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business in EMEA. ‚We have reached and surpassed several key milestones that form part of our long term strategic plan to achieve critical mass in Europe and South Africa: and our portfolio now offers the kind of mainstream entertainment experiences that secure wider appeal for Xbox 360. These factors allow us to execute on our strategy to widen the market for Xbox 360, as planned.

‚We continue to offer intense, immersive gaming experiences for gamers ‚ but now we’re priced in a way that will allow new consumers to find out for themselves why Xbox 360 is the ultimate in high-definition entertainment. History shows that R1999.00 is the price point where a console’s audience begins to expand, and with these new ERPs in place we’re ready to bring more consumers into the Xbox 360 world.‚

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