Bad news for Xboxers, good news for Nintendo fans

Yesterday held some good news and some bad news for gamers. First the bad news. In case you somehow missed the uproar, you Xbox owners should know that Microsoft is raising the cost of Xbox Live Gold memberships as of November 1st. I'm a bit late in reporting this but I wanted to be sure none of my readers were taken by surprise by the price hike. Larry "Major Nelson" Hyrb details the price increases (which apply to US, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom) on his blog. For US gamers, the cost for a year will be $59.99 (up from $49.99). Even though that's less than a dollar more per month, the news was met with widespread disapproval among gamers. A few things worth noting. The cost of the Xbox Live Gold Family Pack, set to also debut in November, remains $99.99. That covers 4 users. There has to be some kind of catch there to prevent four unrelated friends from splitting a Family Pack; we should know more closer to launch. Microsoft is also currently offering a $10 discount on 1 year renewals (details here) or you can buy an Xbox 360 Live Subscription Gold Card from Amazon for $39.94 (I'd act quickly on those since plenty of people will be stocking up and there may be shortages). Either of these options will let you 'lock in' a lower price for another year (or more if you stock up on Subscription Cards).

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Now the good news. Nintendo has announced price cuts, as of September 12th 2010, for it's Nintendo DSi and DS XL handheld gaming systems. The DSi will be $149.99 (down from $169.99) and the DS XL will be $169.99 (down from $189.99). Of course Nintendo has its new handheld, the Nintendo 3DS, launching some time between now and March 2011. They'll announce a price (and launch date) for that on September 29th. I've been expecting a price of $249-$299 for the Nintendo 3DS but I wonder if these cuts to the existing platforms are to make some room in the sub-$200 bracket for the new hardware. Could the Nintendo 3DS come in at $189-$199? That seems awfully optimistic, but considering Nintendo USA sold almost 400,000 DS units in July, it doesn't seem like they need a price cut to goose sales of existing hardware. Consider this speculation for now, but I think these price drops on the current models means good news for us all on September 29th when the 3DS gets priced. In the meantime I'm considering that XL come September 12th. I could really put that bigger screen to good use with my tired old eyes.

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