On face value, it’s easy to see the £130 asking price for Kinect as Microsoft echoing back to the original Xbox and its high £299 RRP. £129.99 looks like a price for niche, not novelty.
At least, that’s what a wave of cynical Twitterers (myself included) spluttered when launch details were announced last week. But tell that to consumers – our retail sources say pre-orders are over expectations. One chain is even aggressively incentivising staff to convert interested punters into fully-fledged owners.
Maybe, just maybe, Microsoft was right. Maybe Kinect does have wide appeal – whether you want to dismiss the software line-up as ‘me too’ or not.
Clearly, a chunk of people amongst that same diverse audience Microsoft wants will pay to ‘jump in’ (and up and down while waving their arms) to play it.
Will there be a price drop next year? Does the bundle suggest that, deep down, Kinect as a solus product will sell for under £99? Yes, probably.
But that isn’t the point.
Instead, look at the immediate impact we get from accepting a higher RRP. It feeds right into retailer fears over shrinking margins, and holds back price erosion.
Consumers and the media may want to express outrage when a peripheral costs £129.99, or when new big-budget games have a £54.99 RRP. But they just counterbalance a world where consumers are spoilt for gaming choices – many of them online and free.
The age of luxury game pricing that Modern Warfare 2 ushered in is here to stay. Kinect is a luxury that many consumers have made clear they can afford right now, which is good news for games retailers, Microsoft, and the rest of us.
And when the price does inevitably drop, all those sceptics will be queuing up to buy one too. Win-win.