November 2010, for less than $100. Is it possible the holy grail of gaming peripherals known as Project Natal will be available at such a low price?
The November ’10 release date lines up with information that’s been making the rounds since the device was first announced, but this is the first time a price has been mentioned.
This information comes from a spy report published by gaming trade mag MCV. The report goes on to say that Microsoft is readying 5 million units to meet the demand when Natal goes on sale November 2010, and that at least 14 game titles are in the works for launch. Publishers committed to Natal-based games include Activision, Bethesda, Capcom, Disney, EA, Ubisoft, and more. And that doesn’t include Microsoft’s own first-party publishers, like Rare, Lionhead, and Epic.
The real news here is that jaw-dropping price tag. When I was at E3 earlier this year, where Natal was first unveiled, the most common speculation was that Natal would be priced at at least $200, if not more. Because Microsoft has made no secret of the fact that it sees Natal as a way of lengthening the life span of the 360, and avoiding a whole new console launch. Now normally I might be inclined to be cynical of MS for trying to “wring more money out of a current-gen console” while its competitors move forward… But in the current economy, a bargain-priced device that transforms your existing console experience into something revolutionary sounds like a pretty darn good idea.
MCV claims that Microsoft wants to make Natal an ultra-affordable “impulse buy” add-on for your 360, and right now, gamers everywhere are on their knees praying that this is true. One of MCV‘s sources says the price might even go as low as $50.
Such a move would not be without precedent on Microsoft’s part. Both the first Xbox and the 360 have famously been sold for higher-than-manufacturing-cost prices, out of the gate, because of an intentional strategy from MS to recoup its hardware investment through game sales. And it’s a strategy that’s worked for them.
Whether or not any of this is true remains to be seen, so don’t count it as “fact” yet. In the meantime, Sony’s motion-tracking “want” controller for the PS3 will be launched in Spring 2010 — at least 6 months before Natal. And rumors persist that Nintendo is already at work on a next-gen Wii with heftier processing power.
The console war is far from over.
Image: Microsoft Corporation.