May 05, 2012, 7:00 AM — Microsoft could soon offer a subsidized Xbox 360 for $99 along with a two-year contract for Xbox Live Gold in an attempt to popularize the Xbox as the main digital hub in living rooms across the U.S., according to an online report. As early as next week, Microsoft may start offering a 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect sensor plus a two-year commitment to pay $15 per month for Xbox Live Gold, giving you access to the console's online services.
The new deal is expected to be offered at Microsoft’s retail stores, and the Xbox Live Gold subscription may include additional streaming content currently unavailable to Xbox Live Gold members, according to The Verge. It's unclear whether Microsoft would also offer the supposed subscription deal online or through other retailers such as Best Buy or Amazon.
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If the report is accurate, this could be an interesting move for Microsoft since the company has spent so much effort recently on expanding the Xbox's entertainment options. In addition to playing traditional console video games on the Xbox, you can also access a long list of online content services. Xbox Live Gold members can currently stream content from Netflix, ESPN, Epix movie streaming, Hulu Plus, Sony's Crackle, Syfy, TMZ, HBO Go, MLB.TV, and Vudu. Comcast and Verizon cable and Internet subscribers can also use Xbox Live to access their respective online streaming services including Xfinity On Demand and FIOS TV.
Microsoft’s plan, according to Jason Cross at TechHive, is similar to wireless cellphone providers that sell subsidized devices to attract customers. Microsoft would take this to another level, according to Cross, because the company would get money from its Xbox Live Gold subscription fee and royalties from all the games its new customers are buying.