Smell that? It's the scent of hardware sold at a discounted price to make room for the younger, sexier next-generation model. That's probably what's going on with a recent announcement by Major Nelson (Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox Live) that Kinect now has a pricetag of $109.99 in the United States, a nice little drop from the previous $149.99 wallet drainer.
According to the blog post, the price drop isn't a special promotion: it's a done deal until the next model fills its spot. "There will be also a permanently reduced price in North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions where Kinect is sold," he said. "Additionally, on October 4, the Kinect sensor will be available for a permanently reduced price in Australia and New Zealand."
"The final retail price will vary in each region based on the currency and other variables," he added. "There are no price drop plans for EMEA and Japan."
The news conveniently arrives before Microsoft unleashes Microsoft 8 on the general population in late October, and before the holiday season kicks into high gear. But does that mean Microsoft plans to follow up with a price reduction of the Xbox 360 console? Probably not, but consumers should expect a number of fancy discounted bundles in the next few months.
Analysts agree. "Price cut no, bundles yes. For now, I think Microsoft is happy with Xbox sales and some early traction in the different pricing models they have rolled out at retail," said Colin Sebastian of RW Baird in speaking with GamesIndustry International. "We still expect the launch of the next Xbox in the fall of 2013, so there will still need to be a price cut on the current gen, although perhaps not until after the holidays. I am sure retailers will offer their own promotions this holiday though."
Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter said that he couldn't believe Microsoft's Kinect hadn't seen a price cut already. "I thought Kinect had been cut a long time ago, and can't believe that the standalone unit sells that well," he said.
Kinect made its debut back in November 2010, a motion sensing device for the Xbox 360. It was Microsoft's answer to the Nintendo Wii, but seemingly became more popular due to the HD gaming and the hands-free experience. Sony produced its own wand-like Wiimote rival, but it hasn't caught on like Microsoft's own Kinect which sold 8 million units by January 2011.
Since then, the standalone Kinect unit has sold for $149.99 USD. In addition to gaming, Microsoft's vision for Kinect has extended into the console's multimedia offerings, allowing owners to use their hands or speak commands when sifting through Netflix movies or browsing content on the Marketplace.
But looming in the horizon is the possibility of Microsoft unveiling both the next-generation Xbox Infinity and Kinect 2 at E3 2013, with a likely commercial release in 4Q13. The current speculation is that the new pricecut is pointing to a possible October release of the Kinect 2 which may be compatible with Windows 8. Does that mean it will work on the PC too? Guess we'll find out soon enough.
Currently Microsoft sells two versions: one for the console and a non-commercial version for Windows PC, the latter of which costs a heftier $249.99 USD. So far there's no indication that this model will be reduced in price, but releasing a Kinect successor that supports both platforms would be highly convenient for consumers and developers alike.