Microsoft is rumoured to cut the price of its premium Xbox360 down to $299 - including a HD-DVD disc drive, as DigiTimes reports:
Microsoft, to prepare for the price cut, has negotiated reduced production costs for the Xbox 360 with Taiwan-based manufacturing partners, stated the sources. The manufacturers estimate that the total production cost can be reduced by 15-20% due to diminishing costs for most components along with increasing production scales and decreasing defect rates, the sources pointed out.
This rumour comes alongisde speculation that Microsoft has secured an exlusivity deal with Capcom regarding Resident Evil 5, as Games Industry reports:
Industry chatter at the Tokyo event claimed Resident Evil's no-show is owing to Microsoft tying up a shock exclusivity deal for 360, with an announcement due at the US firm's X06 event in Barcelona next week.
Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz at TGS 2006, Xbox boss Sensui refused to pour cold water on the rumour when questioned, stating that it had already been announced for Xbox 360 and adding, somewhat enigmatically: "All I can say is we are very good friends with Mr Inafune [the game's producer]".
If true, this would significantly up Microsoft´s chances in Europe and the US. I am more sceptical about Japan, since the console has been sitting on store shelves even at the ridiculously low price of $250, I believe. In the US and Europe, though, a $299 price tag for the premium version including an HD-DVD drive would spell huge trouble for both Sony and Nintendo. If anything is announced at X06 starting tomorrow, you will read about it here. I am attending the event.
Sources: DigiTimes, Games Industry