Microsoft has abandoned a pilot program that offered the Xbox 360 for $99 with a monthly service contract.
The program, which launched in the spring of 2012, took inspiration from wireless carriers, who subsidize the cost of new smartphones in exchange for long-term service commitments. Microsoft charged just $99 for the console, but required a two-year commitment to Xbox Live at $15 per month. While the offer was cheaper up front, it was more expensive in the long run than buying the console at full price and paying Xbox Live's cheaper annual rate of $60.
Microsoft confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the program has been discontinued. "This program was intended to be a pilot experiment from the start," spokesman David Dennis told the Journal, "and Microsoft routinely adjusts the mix of offers available to its customers and this change was simply standard business practice."
Even so, Microsoft did try to expand the program in the fall of 2012, adding new Xbox 360 models and bringing the offer to other retailers beyond the Microsoft Store. However, the subsidy model never made its way to the new Xbox One.
It's fitting that the experiment has ended now, as wireless carriers are also beginning to move away from smartphone subsidies. T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon all offer subsidy-free plans now, in which the user gets a lower monthly rate while paying off the full price of the phone in monthly installments. Perhaps Microsoft could have more success with that kind of plan, given the Xbox One's steep $500 price tag.
For those who already own an Xbox One, Microsoft has reaffirmed that it's still working on PC support for Xbox One controllers, despite a somewhat sketchyrumor to the contrary this week. In a post on NeoGAF, Xbox Director of Product Planning Albert Penello said Microsoft will not lock out existing Xbox One controllers from PCs, and any claims to the contrary are "100 percent wrong."
Penello then explained that existing controllers will work over a wired USB connection, and unlike the current Xbox 360 controller, no separate dongle will be required. Microsoft is still determining whether a wireless connection will be possible. Penello didn't rule out a separate PC-focused controller, though he didn't explain what that meant. (A controller with a permanent wired connection or a USB-based wireless dongle seem like possibilities.)
There's still no word on timing for PC support for the Xbox One controller. Microsoft has only said that it'll arrive some time in 2014. Sony's Playstation 4 controllers already work on PC, though some extra steps are required.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.