It’s been a couple of weeks since some eagle-eyed gamers first began to see them on store shelves, but Microsoft on Tuesday officially announced the Xbox 360 Arcade, a new version of its popular video game console available at a new, lower price point — $279.99.
The Xbox 360 Arcade console combines a High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) connector and 256MB of on-board memory for storing games and entertainment content. It also includes five games previously available only to Xbox 360 users who signed up for Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade online service — Pac-Man Championship Edition, Uno, Luxor 2, Boom Boom Rock and Feeding Frenzy. A wireless controller is also included.
With an HDMI connector, the Xbox 360 Arcade can plug into an HDTV-based home entertainment configuration and display game content at 1080i resolution, although the limited storage capability may send some Xbox 360 Arcade owners scrambling for a hard drive add-on peripheral fairly quickly. The games included with the Xbox 360 Arcade are full versions, not demos.
In related news, Microsoft announced the release of new “family-oriented programming” on the Xbox Live service with more than 100 new episodes of Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon TV shows available for purchase and download for viewing on the Xbox 360. The selections include classic Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons. New game titles have also been released: SpongeBob SquarePants: Underpants Slam and Shrek-n-Roll, both for Xbox Live Arcade.
The new Xbox 360 configuration may compare favorably to budget-minded families looking for a value this holiday season — Microsoft offers two other configurations of Xbox 360 for $349.99 and $449.99 respectively, both of which offer beefier storage capabilities and limited backward-compatibility with older games for the original Xbox.
It’s going to be a battle of prices this holiday season, with competitor Sony recently introducing a lower-priced PlayStation 3 model for $399. Nintendo still rules the roost when it comes to console pricing, however, pricing its Wii system at $249.99, but continued constrained availability almost a year after the system’s launch makes the Wii a continued rare commodity, while PS3 and Xbox 360 systems line store shelves.