Let's cut right to the chase. When Kinect is finally released on November 4th later this year, it will be available for the price of $149.99 (£130 for all you lucky British folk, â‚¬149.99 in Europe). In case you're worried that you'll have to pay more for an game on top of that, it will be coming bundled with Kinect Adventures, in the same way that Wii Sports came bundled with the Wii.
All upcoming Kinect games will have a recommended retail price of $49.99/£40 ($10 less than a standard Xbox 360 title, but the same price for a UK-bought 360 game), but the pricing will be left up for the publishers to decide. It has been announced that the upcoming Harmonix title, Dance Central, will be following Microsoft's recommended pricing structure, and will debut at $49.99/£39.99.
In case you don't yet own a 360 but are still tempted by the lure of motion-gaming, there will be a special console/Kinect bundle available at launch. Available for $299/£249.99/â‚¬299.99, the bundle will include a new Xbox 360 SKU , the previously rumored Xbox 360 4 GB Arcade System. The system packs 4 GB of flash memory, as well as the rest of the perks that the newly released 250 GB model includes - ie. built in WiFi, whisper-quiet when running games, etc. The new system does allow consumers to purchase and install a Microsoft hard drive, should they wish to upgrade the machine's storage capacity.
The new 4GB model will also have a matte finish, distinguishing it from its larger HDD brother. The 4GB model will be available before the Kinect, releasing on August 3rd in North America and August 20th in the UK. When bought alone, the console will cost $199/£149.99, meaning that, to upgrade to the Kinect bundle, it's an increase of $100/£100.
Aaron Greenberg, Director of Product Management of Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, explained the reasoning behind the Kinect's price scheme:
"We don't really make pricing decisions without doing a lot of research. We talked with thousands of consumers across a whole variety of audience segments, on a global scale. What we heard was that when people look at what they get with the Kinect sensor -- all the experiences it enables across entertainment, movies, music, using your voice to access your entertainment, your gestures navigating the dash, etc. plus all of the games coming to market -- our research shows that at $149 consumers feel like it's a great value for existing owners. And then for new buyers, the $299 bundle is extremely compelling."
He then goes on to compare it to the PlayStation Move:
"We're currently a full $100 less than the PS Move bundle which is $400, which is a single player experience. Obviously if you add a second player to that they get well over $500 pretty quickly."
Whilst you can't argue with the numbers, I can't really back Microsoft's pricing. Kinect may be an incredibly cool device, but that doesn't make $150 instantly affordable. When Greenberg compares it to the Move, it sounds rather like two (incredibly rich) car enthusiasts debating about whether or not they should buy a Lamborghini or a Ferrari -- at the end of the day, they're still incredibly expensive cars! Then there's the decision to include Kinect Adventures. Coming out of E3 2010 this year, Adventures was the least exciting title on the platform, for me. Greenberg explains the decision behind including Adventures:
"It's a great broad appeal game for existing and new buyers. It's got more than 20 game modes, everything from River Rush to Obstacle Course...We did a lot of testing with consumers and we really felt like this title had a great broad appeal. It's full body, it integrates voice. It's great jump-in jump-out multiplayer. We think it's a fun game to play for existing owners as well as new consumers...We thought about Kinect Sports, but we felt like Adventures was more new and unique."
Quite honestly, I would've included Dance Central. Wii Sports was exciting because it replicated real-life sports, and although it's clear that Microsoft wanted a similar appeal with Adventures, I believe the link is too abstract. If Dance Central had been included, I honestly believe it would've had a far stronger "Hey, come and check out this game!" appeal -- similar to the Rock Band series.
If you're still excited (and have the money to do it) then pre-ordering Kinect will guarantee you a download token for three additional exclusive levels for Kinect Adventures.
Quite honestly, I have no doubt that I will not be buying Kinect when it comes out later this year. I simply can't afford it. Those of you whom have read my articles before now, will know that I currently live in the UK, and the pricing is utterly diabolical. £130 equates to around $196, not $150! I've made it clear before that I've been unsure about Kinect -- not specifically due to its hardware, but rather because I simply don't know if I have the space to play in for a motion sensing peripheral like that. Before, I may have been tempted by a cheaper price point -- I would have at least looked into whether it was feasible to play Dance Central in my tiny living room. Now, I see no point.
What do you think of the Kinect's pricing model? Will you be buying any of the bundle? Does the new 360 model entice you? Let us know in the comments below.