Microsoft is reportedly looking to entice more people to sign on to its all-encompassing Xbox Live entertainment platform by subsidising cheap Xbox 360 consoles and Kinect peripherals.
Reports in the United States say Microsoft is working on a deal, akin to signing a mobile phone contract in exchange for a large discount on a handset.
If new buyers are willing to sign up for a two year Xbox LIVE Gold subscription, which offers access to online gaming as well as a host of media on-demand platforms like Sky Go, LOVEFiLM, Netflix 4oD and more, they could get a dramatically reduced console.
The prices quoted in the CBS.com report suggest Microsoft would offer the console and Kinect bundle for just $99 ($200 off the RRP) in exchange for the two-year sign-up at $15 a month. The overall savings would only be around $40 but if users were planning on signing up for Xbox LIVE anyway, it represents a huge saving.
It's difficult to translate those figures into the UK. The direct exchange rate would suggest the console would cost just £60, but we know better than to expect US goods to be available at the same price on UK shores. Perhaps if Microsoft decided to launch the scheme in Blighty we'd get the bundle for £100, but that's pure speculation.
It's easy to see why Microsoft might be considering this move. It has spent the last year repositioning the console as a multimedia portal, with most key networks on both sides of the Atlantic housing apps within the device. However, for the larger part, users need to be Xbox LIVE Gold members to access these apps. This deal would get more consoles into more homes, with built-in XBL subscriptions.
The company, as yet, has refused to comment on the speculation.