Following photo evidence last week of Xbox 360 Arcade standees appearing at retail outlets, Microsoft today officially confirmed the repackaged console. Outlining the Arcade's appeal to the Financial Times, Microsoft president of entertainment and devices division Robbie Bach said the new configuration was intended to take on Nintendo's popular $249 Wii, which comes with the Wii Sports minigame compilation.
"Arcade becomes [for us] the ability to bring in a new set of audiences," Bach said. "They're probably a little bit more casually focused, they're looking for a new family experience, or they're more price focused."
The Financial Times and Microsoft were mum on when the Arcade will arrive at retail. However, the article did confirm that Microsoft's low-end SKU would maintain its $279 price point, include a wireless controller, and pack in at least three Xbox Live Arcade games: Pac-Man, Uno, and Luxor 2. (Leaked pictures of the boxes show the Pac-Man game included is actually Pac-Man Championship Edition.) Though no other games were mentioned in the FT article, numerous online reports say the game will come with five games in total, including Boom-Boom Rocket and Feeding Frenzy.
The timing of the confirmation isn't surprising. Earlier today, Sony announced it has dropped the price of its 80GB PlayStation 3 SKU in North America to $499. The console maker also plans on introducing a reduced-functionality 40GB model for $399 on November 2.
The parallel announcements of the Xbox 360 Arcade and cheaper PS3 are designed to shake up the next-gen console race. As of the end of August, the NPD Group estimates that, despite a year head start, only 6.3 million 360s have been sold in the US, compared to 4 million Wiis. Both platforms are far ahead of the PS3, which has only sold 1.75 million units in the US since its November 2006 debut.