Media speculation has been rife, and Microsoft have been playing their cards very close to their collective chests, but the rumour is that Microsoft will announce pricing for Xbox 360 at 9:30am EST today, or 2:30pm British Summer Time, according to gaming website 1UP
. This would seemingly make sense, with today being the Media Day at the GC 2005
tradeshow in Leipzig.
Or does it? The highly respected industry website, GamesIndustry.biz
, has poured cold water over this theory, reporting that none of the new console's trio of spokemen - Robbie Bach, J Allard and Peter Moore - are in Germany for the event.
"In the absence of those executives, who have become the face of the Xbox 360 project, it's unlikely that an announcement about date or price will be made - with further announcements of European software support for the console perhaps more likely,
said GI.biz Editor, Rob Fahey.
Allard's abscence can be easily explained - the poor guy took a tumble while mountain biking recently in Canada, breaking bones
in his left arm and cracking a couple of ribs. An announcement is still possible from Xbox HQ in Seattle - we will just have to wait another 7 hours or so.
Whether it is today or not, the speculation continues on what the final pricing will actually be. We brought you reports at the start of the month of Walmart employees leaking a US$299.99 price point
, though they still remain unconfirmed at this point. We already suspect there will be a Value Bundle, with an optional hard drive version available as a higher priced Premium Bundle. It would appear likely that US$299 will be the entry level pack, and the version with the hard drive that many people will want could be US$349 or possibly US$399. There have been no hints on UK pricing - we would guess at a possible £249 / £299 based on these US prices.
At least, that was everyone's best guess until yesterday, when a possible leak appeared on a Swiss reseller area of Microsoft.com. It has since been amended but prior to the cover-up, it decribed some dealer incentives that included winning "a brand-new XBOX 360 game console to the value of CHF 600." At the current rate of exchange, one Swiss Franc buys approximately US$0.79 cents, hinting at a whopping US$475 street price. With so much anticipation of a US$299 launch, Microsoft would have to put together one hell of a bundle to attempt selling it at US$475.
In other news, the one announcement that might well emerge from Leipzig later today is confirmation from Sony that they intend to cut the price of PlayStation 2, as we suspected
. According to GI.biz, Sony has traditionally chosen late August or early September as the time for its final pre-Christmas price adjustments. Several UK retailers deny any knowledge of the cut, while senior sources in Leipzig told GI the cut was "common knowledge".
Either way, we will bring you the news just as soon as the press releases hit the inbox.
according to a report in the LA Times newspaper, Microsoft will announce US$299 and US$399. The cheaper bundle will not include the wireless gamepad, 20GB hard drive, headset, Ethernet cable and remote control bundled with the Premium version.
We may all know soon enough - just a few more hours.
Place your bets now.