A reader dropped us a tip asking the following good question. Because the question and answer shed light on the console wars, we're sharing it with you.
"I recently decided that I would like to have an Xbox for my upstairs bedroom so that my fiancée can play games that she enjoys such as DDR and Psychonauts.... I have since discovered from numerous store managers that Microsoft has discontinued the core version of the original Xbox. Now instead of paying $149.99 for an Xbox, as one has been able to do since 2003, it is necessary to drop $179.99 for an Xbox packaged with Forza Motor Sport (a game made by Microsoft).... The real kicker is that the only way to buy an Xbox now is to pay $30 more than the system cost for the past 2-3 years just because it is packaged with a first party game that retails for $19.99 (new).... Since when did console makers RAISE the prices of consoles towards the end of their cycle?"
Good question. We searched Amazon, Buy.com, and Wal-Mart.com and could not find an original Xbox console for less than $170. All of the consoles found at these sites (except used consoles offered through Amazon.com third-party sellers) came bundled with Forza. Why has Microsoft chosen to restrict (or discontinue) the supply of core Xbox systems at exactly the moment when console manufacturers have tended to drop prices?
There are a few reasons why we imagine Microsoft might pursue what appears to be a perverse strategy.