Microsoft pulls trigger on 360 price drops

Newspaper ads prove accurate as cost of Core, Premium, Elite packages will fall in varying amounts on August 8; Halo-branded system to sell for $399.

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Word of a price drop for the Xbox 360 has been buzzing since before last month's E3 Media & Business Summit. The rumors got even louder recently as the Hollywood Reporter cited retail sources in detailing a $50 price drop set for August 8. That was soon corroborated by a pair of leaked retailer newspaper ads for Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us that was set to run in the following Sunday's paper. Those were closely followed by a Circuit City flier that specified a $50 price drop for the Premium Xbox 360 bundle, a $30 drop for the Elite, and a $20 cut for the Core.

Microsoft on Monday night confirmed all those rumors. Starting August 8, the Xbox 360 Premium bundle (apparently now referred to simply as the Xbox 360 in the company's vernacular) will retail for $349.99. The Xbox 360 Core system will sell for $279.99, and the Elite package will sell for $449.99. The company said the price drop timing is scheduled to coincide with the August 14 release of Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 08.

Finally, Microsoft revealed the pricing of the fourth Xbox 360 bundle: the Halo 3 Special Edition console. Arriving in September with a Spartan green-and-gold color scheme, the system will sell for $399.99. It will include an HDMI-capable system, a wireless controller, a headset, a 20GB hard drive, and a play-and-charge kit. Halo 3 will be sold separately.

As for other nations, there's no word yet on if and when the price drop will arrive. A Microsoft Australia spokesman declined to give a time frame on when any cut would arrive down under.

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