Big on blue? Microsoft expands palette with new Xbox 360 bundle
The $249 bundle includes two games, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and a free month of Xbox Live Gold.
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Microsoft's Xbox 360 is entering its ninth holiday season with a splash.
Starting on October 7, customers who head to Walmart will find a Special Edition Blue Xbox 360 Bundle for $249. While the bundle includes two games -- Call of Duty: Ghosts and Call of Duty: Black Ops II -- along with a free month of Xbox Live Gold access, it's the blue color, outlined with a neon blue on the controller and console, that will undoubtedly get the most attention.
Microsoft focusing its efforts on the Xbox 360 is somewhat surprising. The console was replaced last year by the Xbox One and has since witnessed slumping sales as consumers turn to next-generation consoles. Microsoft largely turned its back on the original Xbox as soon as the Xbox 360 launched in 2005 and was expected to follow a somewhat similar course with the launch of the Xbox One.
What is driving Microsoft's desire to offer new bundles in the Xbox 360 space? Most likely: profitability.
Since its launch in last November, Microsoft has sold more than 5 million Xbox One consoles to retailers worldwide. Sony, however, has sold more than 10 million PlayStation 4 units worldwide. Microsoft's Xbox 360 is cheaper to produce than its new console, meaning the company could be profiting heavily on each sale. It's likely Microsoft is trying to capitalize on that before the Xbox 360 is officially dead.
Microsoft provided some insight into why it continues to offer Xbox 360 bundles, telling CNET in an e-mailed statement that the company still views the device as a core component in its product lineup.
"Xbox 360 continues to be an important piece of the Xbox portfolio and still offers amazing games and entertainment experiences to fans," an Xbox spokesperson told CNET in an e-mailed statement. "We're pleased to bring more offerings and price points for fans this holiday."
Whatever the case, Microsoft isn't just stopping with a blue Xbox 360 bundle. The company also announced that the standard black console will be available in a Holiday Value bundle. That will again include both Call of Duty games and one month free of Xbox Live Gold. It'll also come in at $249.
Not content to only partner with Walmart, Microsoft has also inked a deal with Target to offer its 4GB Xbox 360 Kinect Bundle, which includes Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports, and Forza Horizon. That bundle also includes Xbox Live Gold membership and starts at $249.
Both bundles will be available in time for the holidays. Microsoft has also said "many" of the bundles will be available outside the US.