Holding out for an Xbox price drop? Don't--it appears that Microsoft is actually raising prices for its first system.
The original story comes courtesy of gaming blog Joystiq, which uncovered the fact that Microsoft is currently selling the original Xbox console in one lone configuration: a bundle that includes Forza Motorsport.
The price weighs in at a pre-tax $179.99, which is thirty dollars more than a brand new PS2 (without a bundled game).
That's right: the original Xbox has actually increased in price in recent weeks. Just months ago, a core version of the system cost just $149.99. That $149 Xbox model--available since early 2004--is no longer available.
The steeper $179.99 Forza bundle isn't limited to just a few select shops. In a quick survey of top online retailers Best Buy, Amazon, Wal-Mart, and GameStop, only one retailer came in under than $179.99: Wal-Mart, with $179.24. The local brick-and-mortar GameStop only had the $179.99 bundle, too.
It's worth nothing that this new pricing strategy could be a move to discourage sales of the original console, especially as Microsoft invests heavily in the new Xbox 360. With a retail Xbox 360 Core system costing just a little over a hundred dollars more than the vanilla Xbox bundle, it's possible that Microsoft is betting consumers will pony up the extra c-note to join the next-gen revolution, forgoing the old system entirely.
This latest development comes after recent revelations that Microsoft lost a grand total of $4 billion on the original Xbox console cycle. Despite these difficulties, Microsoft is standing firm behind the original Xbox, insisting that it will support the system "well into 2006"...a claim that some sources contest.
Microsoft has not as of yet responded to our questions concerning this pricing strategy. We'll update the story if they provide a response.