Retail ads confirm $50 Xbox 360 price cut?

Earlier this month, retailers let Sony's price-drop cat out of the bag; now they might have done the same thing to Microsoft.

Source: Pictures of advance retail flyers posted on the forums of Modojo and Cheap Ass Gamer over the weekend.

The official story: "We have no announcements to make on pricing at this time. While price matters, content is king. And no other system is offering all the games people want to play this holiday at a better price than Xbox 360. With games like Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, Madden NFL 08, Guitar Hero III, and Rock Band to name a few, we have the greatest holiday lineup in video game history."--A Microsoft spokesman getting extra mileage from the response to the last 360 price-cut rumor.

What we heard: Earlier this month, a leaked newspaper ad for Circuit City broke the news that Sony planned to drop the price of the PlayStation 3 by $100. Several days later at the E3 Media and Business Summit, Sony went ahead and announced the 60GB PS3's new $499 price point--and its sudden discontinuation.

History could be repeating itself in near-record time, as leaks from the retail sector have been making the rounds, stating that an Xbox 360 price drop is imminent. Over the weekend, a Modojo forum-goer posted a scan of what is apparently a Wal-Mart ad promoting a $349 Premium Xbox 360. The small scan doesn't clearly give details about any possible price drop for the Core or Elite models of Microsoft's system.

The Modojo scan was later backed up by a scan of a Toys "R" Us ad from the Cheap Ass Gamer forums. That ad shows the Premium Xbox 360 selling for $349.99, but likewise gives no such indication about a drop for the Core or Elite systems.

Given the lead time on newspaper ads like these, it's likely both fliers are set to be distributed on Sunday, August 13. That would be the first ad-packed Sunday paper after August 8, the supposed price-cut date reported on last week by the Hollywood Reporter.

It's clear that a number of retailers are expecting an Xbox 360 price cut next week, so much so that they're willing to buy print advertising for it. If that's the case, Microsoft almost certainly told them to expect a price cut, and when it would be fine to start promoting it. When Microsoft actually decides to announce it remains to be seen, although sources close to the software giant are grousing through back channels that the discounting's cover has already been blown.

Bogus or not bogus?: Not bogus.

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