Pricey, but much needed
Microsoft isn't getting rid of the Core, but we can still help to make HDD-less Xbox 360s a thing of the past

I’m totally floored that Microsoft has finally decided to announce a larger hard drive for the Xbox 360, but I’m only mildly keen on the Xbox 360 Elite. Of course, given the choice between the two consoles today, I’d take the Elite without question, but the addition of HDMI isn’t enough for me to pay the difference to upgrade. Maybe I’m just being complacently satisfied with my crusty old analog VGA output, but it looks good enough for me.

My only beef with the 120GB add-on is the price, and at $180, I know that I’m not alone. But I understand Microsoft’s pricing. Figure this: the Core system costs $300, and to bring the Core up to Premium’s 20GB storage by buying the original hard drive would cost $100. Premium Xbox 360 owners, in essence, get the wireless controller and component cables for free. Now adding 120GB to the Core system bring the final cost to $480, the same as the Elite, so upcoming black Xbox owners are essentially getting a wireless controller and an HDMI cable for free.

Everything falls in-line with Microsoft’s pricing. Yes, I believe Microsoft’s accessories are overpriced (don’t even get me started on the wireless adapter) but at least no Xbox 360 owner will feel more ripped off than the other will. Of course, this is all assuming that the Core system still has its place in the market, which I firmly believe that it does not.

I’m a business major, so I have a firm grasp on the marketing aspects of “offering customers choice” and penetrating different segments of the market. It seems to make great sense to offer a relatively inexpensive “base” model that users can later upgrade to a higher spec. Hell, it works for the car enthusiasts, who may purchase a Honda Civic as a base car, later to only acquire OEM Type-R upgrades for a little bit more of the “VTEC just kicked in, YO!”

As a hardcore gamer, however, it just bothers me that Xbox 360 developers even have to consider making their games for a system without a hard drive. One of the strengths of the original Xbox was that every console included the hard drive. Developers could count on it being there, even if it was only eight gigs. Sony realizes the value of every machine having a hard drive, which the company makes sure that we do not forget.

Consider the Xbox 360 Core purchaser, who has to buy some form of storage to save games. Obviously, no Core buyer would purchase the $100 20GB hard drive, as they would simply pick up the Premium pack, he or she would have to shell out at least another $30-50 for a memory unit. Mind you, the smaller, cheaper 64MB memory unit seems pretty worthless after the introduction of Xbox Live Arcade. The 512MB unit seems to a bit more sense, but anyone interested in upgraded their Xbox Live experience would do much better to just spend double the money to get at least 25 times more storage.

Short of Microsoft canning the Core pack, the best thing that could happen to Xbox 360 is if all owners of 20GB drives would sell (or donate) their now-puny hard drives to Core owners after upgrading to 120GB. From the sounds of it, transferring data from the 20GB to the 120GB drive will automatically format the 20GB drive, making it instantly ready for a sale or hand-me-down.

If I could sell my 20GB drive for $50, then I’d be a little more satisfied to pay $130 difference for the upgrade to 120GB. I’d also feel pretty happy with myself after helping a lesser Xbox 360 catch up to the current gen.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive

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