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Xbox 360 price cut coming July 13

With several leaked photos making their way onto blogs, a July 13 price cut for the Xbox 360 has been all but confirmed.

The Xbox 360 Pro (aka Premium) will now cost $50 less. Microsoft

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about rumors that Microsoft was planning to chop the Xbox 360's price in July. Well, that price cut was all but confirmed today by Kotaku.

After posting leaked photos of upcoming Best Buy, Kmart, and other circulars, the gaming blog now has a GameStop employee's cell-phone snapshots of shelf art and an internal memo announcing that the Xbox 360 Pro (aka the Premium) would drop to $299.99 on Sunday, July 13. Not coincidentally, E3 kicks off the next day with--you guessed it--Microsoft's press conference.

As Sony's PlayStation 3 has come on strong in recent months, sales of the Xbox 360 have been flat, so a price drop seemed likely. The success of Metal Gear Solid 4 continues to give the PS3 a boost, but chances are Sony, too, will have to trim the price of its console before the holiday buying season.

All that said, the big question remains whether Microsoft will announce any new configurations of the Xbox 360. Rumor has it, the company is just using the price drop to clear out inventory of the 20GB Premium before it brings out a new 60GB version. (Of course, if you're willing to take a chance on a refurbished Premium, you can do significantly better than $300). There's no word on whether the Xbox 360 Elite or the Arcade (no hard drive) will also get $50 snips or whether a flagship model with a built-in Blu-ray drive is really in the works.

Personally, I'd like to see Microsoft get rid of the useless Arcade and reduce the number of Xbox 360 choices down to two to avoid confusing consumers. Anybody else want to guess what Microsoft has up its sleeve next week and what Sony's next move will be?