Subscription based $99 Xbox 360 is real, on sale now

US gamers have become the first to be offered a cut-price console on the condition that they sign up for a two-year contract.

And it’s a model that an increasing number of industry members believe will become the dominant delivery method for the next generation of consoles.

Microsoft has gone live with what observers are describing as an experiment” in the US. It offers gamers the chance to buy a 4GB Xbox 360 and Kinect for just $99 – as long as they sing up to a two-year $14.99 a month Xbox Live contract.

Compared to buying a console and subscribing to Xbox Live outright, it only works out around $40 more.

There is one catch, however – currently you can only obtain the bundle from a Microsoft store, of which there are only 21 in the US.

While the global economy remains in a state of high instability, the console market desperately needs a shot in the arm to stop it sliding ever lower. The increasing belief is that a subscription model could be the answer to the problem of getting cash-strapped consumers to buy into a new generation of machines.

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