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$1200 Cheap! 388

Posted by michael
from the playing-hardball dept.
Pinky3 writes: "The LA Times is reporting that Microsoft is encouraging retailers to bundle Microsoft games with each XBox. "Beginning next month, many retailers will be requiring customers to pay from $499 to as much as $1,200 to reserve an Xbox console that, like it or not, will come bundled with games, peripherals and warranties. The reason: Microsoft will provide additional marketing money to merchants that agree to include the software giant's games in their bundles. That's because Microsoft's games carry higher profit margins for the Redmond, Wash., company than those published by third-party companies such as Activision Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc.""
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$1200 Cheap!

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  • This is a prime example of 'tying', the number one issue the states and DOJ have with Microsoft. It's just another anti-competitive tactic. I'm not surprised at all. This is very typical behavior.

    Gatesco wants

    Desktop PC Market - 99%
    Internet - 99%
    Videogames - 75% (Expected)
    World Domination - 75%
    • by disc-chord (232893) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:35PM (#2172245)
      How is it anti-competitive... when the compition did this 12 years ago?

      Most slashdotters wouldn't have been around for this so let me give ya'll a history lesson...

      When the NES originally came out in the US it was bundled with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt... (two Nintendo produced games)and peripherals (the duck hunter gun) which jacked up the price to cover their loss on hardware. Later a stipped down unbundled package was offered at $50-75 cheaper.

      This has happened with every single console to date... the only reason you all are bitching is because it's r33t to bash MicroSoft.

    • This is a prime example of 'tying', the number one issue the states and DOJ have with Microsoft.

      I just bought a "wine-saver" pump last night. (You use it to vacuum air out of half-finished bottle.) It was bundled with 4 proprietary wine-saver corks. These can't be used with any competitor's products. And I sure as hell don't need 4. I'll contact the DOJ about it.
    • This is a prime example of 'tying', the number one issue the states and DOJ have with Microsoft. It's just another anti-competitive tactic. I'm not surprised at all. This is very typical behavior.

      What exactly, though, is the difference between this and any other company that tries to grow and take over its market? The company I work for makes acquisitions on a monthly basis, but they're "growing" instead of "squashing competition."

      Where do you draw the line between capitalism and socialism? When does the free market stop, and the government have to come in to make protect us all by preventing the company from growing?

      I guess it just depends if we like the company's products or not.

      Naked Woman Seeks Sex at Airport [slant-six.org]

      • What exactly, though, is the difference between this and any other company that tries to grow and take over its market? The company I work for makes acquisitions on a monthly basis, but they're "growing" instead of "squashing competition."

        The difference is that your company doesn't have a monopoly in any of its markets. The reason Microsoft doesn't have the right to expand into other markets by "bundling" is because they are using their monopoly in the operating system market to gain an unfair advantage over other competitors in that market (e.g. Netscape, though that war has been fought and lost). The fight is still being fought over Microsoft's bundling/integration in Windows XP that favors Microsoft and Microsoft-affiliated companies and services (music, financial services, email, streaming media, etc).

        However, the bundling we're seeing here in the console market is legal, because MS holds no monopoly in the gaming console market. In fact, since they haven't even released the Xbox yet, they have ZERO market share. They are not using their desktop OS monopoly to enter into the console market, and since they have no monopoly in the console market they are not using it illegally to compete in the console games market.

        Moral:
        Using your monopoly in one market to force out competition in a different market = anti-competitive.
        Bundling as a general practice = pisses off consumers, but not illegal or anti-competitive.

          • the bundling we're seeing here in the console market is legal, because MS holds no monopoly in the gaming console market


          This is technically correct ("The best kind of correct..."), but it's always worth bearing in mind that at the speed the Justice Department works, if MS do buy themselves an abusive monopoly in the console market, by the time we get around to doing anything about it, there won't be any competition left to rescue.



          And the same goes for all the groans of "Why are you bashing M$, everybody else does it". This is a company that has repeatedly been found guilty of illegally abusing monopoly positions. And you reckon that they won't do it again?

    • Gatesco wants

      Desktop PC Market - 99%
      Internet - 99%
      Videogames - 75% (Expected)
      World Domination - 75%


      Clue for you, mister numbers: they want 100%. That's their freakin mission statement. Don't like it, don't buy from them. Christ almighty, save me from people with good intentions.
  • Just another reason to go with a PS2 or a Gamecube, I guess. Don't retailers understand that forcing people to pay a hundred extra bucks for games that not everyone wants, instead of letting the customer choose these things is bad? If enough stores go along with this nonsense, the $299 sticker price for Xbox means nothing, and will end up being a huge boost to the competition. When you buy a car, you don't have to add an extra $1000 for the included yacht.
    • Re:Sigh... (Score:3, Funny)

      by dave256 (24152)
      ...no, you pay
      1. $1000 ea for four Optional High Traction Devices(tires)
      2. $500 for Additional Passanger Carrying Devices (passenger seat)
      3. $800 for Climate Control (vents)
      4. $200 for Multimedia Enviroment (tape deck)
      5. ...
    • Re:Sigh... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by danheskett (178529)
      Don't retailers understand that forcing people to pay a hundred extra bucks for games that not everyone wants, instead of letting the customer choose these things is bad?

      I dont think thats whats going on.

      This only applies to pre-orders, if I read the article correctly. This basically means that early adopters will have to pay a big-price to get it first/early/right away.

      The day the Xbox is released, it is my understanding that it will be available for $299. The high-prices only apply to people who reserve it early, right?
    • Re:Sigh... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Enigma2175 (179646)
      When you buy a car, you don't have to add an extra $1000 for the included yacht.

      I bought a car recently (10 days ago). No auto dealership in town had the car I wanted. They were either the wrong color (I wanted black), had the wrong options(there were some things I wanted and sone things I could care less about) or had the wrong transmission. Now, I had a choice. I could buy a car that was very close to what I wanted but was on the lot, or I could order exactly what I wanted from the factory. If I ordered from the factory I would pay full list price. If I bought off the lot I would get a $2000 rebate and be able to haggle the price with the dealer. I ended up paying several thousand dollars less by buying a car with MORE options. I got things I didn't want on my original idea of the car, but they didn't cost me anything in the long run(in fact, they saved me money).

      Game systems have ALWAYS been bundled with games, back to when video games were invented. The atari 2600, TI, Nintendo, PlayStation, Sega and every other platform I can think of came bundled with games. My pong game came with pong, and the company was audacious enough to not let me play any other games on it! Computer systems also come bundled with software. That does not mean I think it is right, but it is a common business practice, both in automobiles and computing. That said, I think MS is waaaaay off here if they think anybody is going to pay 2 - 4 times the MSRP of the system to have it bundled with a bunch of stupid games. There is an alternative to PCs bundled with software (build your own computer). There most likely will be retailers that forgo the extra marketing money from MS in order to sell the machines unbundled with games. I think a retailer would make more money overall, although I have no way of knowing how much of a marketing allowance MS is providing. If everone else is selling bundled systems for $600 and you are selling an unbundled system for $300 I think you would have many customers.

    • Re:Sigh... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zpengo (99887)
      Just another reason to go with a PS2 or a Gamecube, I guess. Don't retailers understand that forcing people to pay a hundred extra bucks for games that not everyone wants, instead of letting the customer choose these things is bad?

      How is it bad? Customers get some games to start off their systems, and Microsoft gets lots of money from the game developers. Some people might not care for the fact that "the evil company" is "forcing" them to buy these games, but it's just common business sense. That's how companies make money, which is what companies are supposed to do. We don't complain when the free version of Opera "forces" us to look at banners, for example. If enough stores go along with this nonsense, the $299 sticker price for Xbox means nothing, and will end up being a huge boost to the competition. When you buy a car, you don't have to add an extra $1000 for the included yacht.

      That's an absurd comparison. A more appropriate comparision might be paying some extra money with your car to get a moon roof, or better sound system, or some other thing. Just because the company involved is Microsoft doesn't mean that their actions must necessarily be evil.

      Naked Woman Seeks Sex at Airport [slant-six.org]

      • Does nobody remember the days when consoles came with games included in the sticker price? The Super NES came with Super Mario World for nothing extra, if I remember right. None of this, "It costs $200, but you have to pay $250 since it has a game" crap.
        • Just because the company involved is Microsoft doesn't mean that their actions must necessarily be evil.


        Uh oh, why do I get the feeling that I've stepped into the Star Trek (& South Park) Evil Parallel Universe? Are you wearing a goatee?



        Slightly more seriously, basic pattern recognition tells us that M$'s actions regarding the X-Box will be abusive and might be technically illegal.



        Let my hypothesise for a second. We're seeing lots of posts saying "Buy a bare one, dumbass!". Fair enough, in an open market, you can do that. But M$ can only fab up a fixed number of X-Boxen. Care to wager money about how many will be given to the channel to sell bare, and how many will be reserved for bundle deals?



        If they create an artificial shortage of the boxen that people want, that generates good publicity for them, and will pressure harassed parents to buy the expensive bundled deals that they don't really want.



        Sure, berate me for being overly cynical, but do please remember, this is Microsoft.

  • by Chompster (97289) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:10PM (#2172159)
    No doubt-- its quite unfair that they do this-- but, again, its not suprising. I, myself, am not going to get an XBox, and this would be further reinforcement to my decision.

    No offense to you guys who like the XBox-- but compared to the Gamecube, (which is made by the very experienced Nintendo,) its sorely lacking.

    This is not an encouragement to boycott XBox, but i don't think that this sort of thing should be endorsed. Nintendo . as far as i can remember, always let you buy a bare system (which is to say, one without a game) and if you couldn't, you didn't usually pay much more than 40 or so dollars extra. Sega didn't do that, (correct me if i am wrong) and not even Sony. Microsoft is obviously inexperienced in this market, and hopefully they'll learn a lesson with this.

    This could go into a whole "why big business is bad" or something, but i don't want it to. Its just an example of how Microsoft is screwing up because of their inexperience in the console market.

    Just my two cents =)
    • This is unfair? Why?

      This only applies to the people who reserve a game early, correct? I think thats what the article said (not entirely sure).

      If that is the case, which I believe it is, and you can still get a bare $299 Xbox, why is this unfair?

      This is basically just another choice: you can buy a bare $299 system and $200 worth of games, or you can buy a bundled system at $499 with 2 x the number of games, albiet MS games.

      This has nothing to do with big business, but rather should go into the "good business" pile.

      This is no screw up, this is a smart move by MS. More choice, better deal, AND stick it to the early adopters. Good, good.
        • you can still get a bare $299 Xbox, why is this unfair


        Let me stare into my crystal ball...


        M$ can only fab up a fixed number of X-Boxen before the Christmas frenzy. Tell me, where are those boxen going to go? Are M$ going to distribute them fairly across the channel, calmly accepting that demand for bare $300 boxen will outstrip demand for $500-$1200 mega bundles, and knowing that they'll lose money on every bare box sale?


        Or is it remotely possible that they will limit the number of (loss leading) bare boxen available, creating an artifical scarcity, driving up the perceived value, and putting pressure on harassed parents (and impatient geeks) to pay the extra for the bundled deal?


        Before you get on your "Just wait, dumbass!" high horse, remember that we're talking about the mass market here, on their Chrismas mission to provide for their rosy cheeked infants, prove their hunting prowess and secure some sweet lovin' from their adoring spouse.


        And remember, if I can figure this out (while still in possession of my soul), then I'm damn sure the M$ marketing collective can.

        • So what!?! If you are dumb enough to fall for that silly christmas-rush buy shit and give it away cause its the christian thing to do crap, then fine by me!

          The question of the matter is that bundling is legal, and even on top of that, MS is ONLY bundling for early adopters who want to reserver it ahead of time. Show up at a store on the day of the release. If they have any left, buy one. If you dont want one, then don't. If you want guarnatee you get one, pay the money.

          This isn't unfair. Its smart, and its legal, and its done everyday by companies all over the place.
            • The question of the matter is that bundling is legal

            Bundling is legal unless there's no choice, i.e. the bundler has a de facto monopoly and is abusing it. Don't take my word for it, ask any court in the USA.

            Yes, yes, I hear you, M$ doesn't have a monopoly in consoles. Yet. All I'm saying is: keep a close eye on them, and believe the worst (Judge Jackson did). If the DOJ waits until they have their console monopoly before doing anything about it, then it will be too late, short of finally getting the the much overdue breakup into platform and application (i.e. console and games).

  • Who would actually pay 1200 bucks for a game console system? I didn't even spend that on my computer which probably has a bit more power and will run a lot more games. I think Microsoft is definatly pricing themselves out of the competition and hopefully the XBox will die a miserable death because of it. Hmmm, but maybe not after all, their operating systems are way overpriced, but they seem to be doing well in that market. I suppose it just depends on the marketing.
  • by Drestin (82768) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:14PM (#2172173)
    I'm struggling to think of what else to write... If you don't want to buy the bundle then ... DON'T! Get the unbundled version. Is this that difficult to comprehend? Every other game maker creates bundles which are cheaper than all the components seperately -- why single out MS for this behavi- oh, I forgot, it's MS.
    • All (or, at least, the vast majority) of consoles and the like are sold as loss leaders - the manufacturers always plan to make money back on the future purchase of software or additional services.

      So Sony subsidises the Playstation, and hopes i'll go and buy lots of games. Ya boo sucks to them when I only ever got Gran Turismo 2 (and a few secondhand games here and there) - they probably lost money on that deal.

      Sky TV does something similar over here - dish and installation free/cheap if you subscribe. Cost if you don't subscribe to their pay TV.

      And good for them.

      Microsoft is just trying to get some money back early in the life of their relationship with the consumber.

      So what?

      ...j
    • Fortunately for us consumers, Microsoft does not (yet?) have a monopoly in the console gaming industry. We can still take our business to the competitors if we don't like the way MS hawks their products.
    • Of course! Just like if you don't want to buy a PC bundled with software, you don't have to.
  • by NetJunkie (56134) <jason...nash@@@gmail...com> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:15PM (#2172176)
    Everyone else does this. To pre-order a Gameboy Advance from EB you had to buy it and 2 games at the same time. I have no doubt it'll be the same way with the new consoles.

    Console makers LOSE MONEY on the console itself. They only makem oney on the games. This makes a lot of sense. I'm sure you'll be able to get one without games if you want, just look around.
  • Nothing New (Score:5, Insightful)

    by szcx (81006) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:16PM (#2172182)
    Jesus, Michael. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for Microsoft bashing articles aren't you?

    Console manufacturers have been doing this for years. Nintendo did this most recently with the Gameboy Advanced. It's Standard Operating Procedure. If you don't like it, don't buy it. It's not like you don't [ebgames.com] have [ebgames.com] options [ebgames.com].

    • Re:Nothing New (Score:3, Informative)

      by linuxpng (314861)
      BUT the big difference is that you can buy it by itself http://www.ebgames.com/ebx/categories/products/dep tpage.asp?web_dept=GB+Advance&web_sub_dept=Hardwar e
      Don't like it? Don't buy it. It's not like you need a xbox
    • Re:Nothing New (Score:2, Informative)

      by KentoNET (465732)
      First off, it's Advance, not Advanced. Get it right.

      Second, Nintendo didn't charge $499-1200 for the GBA. They also probably aren't gonna charge that amount for the GCN.

      I reserved a GBA for $5 (a ticket from EBX) and paid the normal $99.95 for the unit when I went to pick it up. They didn't require me to get 5 games an an attachable light as part of a bundle deal. Retailers are going to require that you purchase other stuff, which I would never support. Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
  • Ugh... (Score:3, Informative)

    by CraigoFL (201165) <slashdot AT kanook DOT net> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:17PM (#2172184)
    From the article:

    "Loyal Xbox fans will have to dole out hundreds of dollars more than they expected to secure an Xbox," said Geoff Keighley, editor of Gameslice, an online game site.

    Loyal Xbox fans? You mean all the ones who bought the previous version of the Xbox and played all the games that came out for it?

    Folks, this is really simple: if you don't like the price, then don't buy it! If still you want one, wait a month or two until it drops in price and retailers start selling the base units without all the crap. If you *really* want one and can't wait, then don't complain about getting screwed over.

    Game consoles are one area where Microsoft is the newcomer and underdog. They're spending a LOT of money to make sure that the Xbox is a success. If you don't like these sorts of tactics and want them to stop, send them a message by not buying the thing. MS will certainly notice if there's no great demand for their product, despite all their spending on advertising.

  • by jsse (254124)
    Tux Racer?

    xbill?

    Please....
    • actually I am sure that they are going to bundle something a little bit better than that.

      Great games and all (from what I hear) but I am certain that if those were ported the XBox would certainly face the same fate as Loki...

      I just saw some previews for the XBox and I was only somewhat impressed. I am sticking to my PS1 and GT1... Then again, I am still playing Ms. Pacman (table top), and non-GL Quake1.

      No matter what they come out w/I will still prefer the TRUE gaming experience of the older shit. I cannot afford at $299 pricetag, nevermind a $whatever+.

      AFAIK a lot of college aged kids were quite a bit of the buying force out there. I cannot believe that they would want to jack the price so high and put most of us out of its range (especially when you just bought a PS2).

      If you want to win the market, you have to draw everyone. I would say that the price needs to drop a bit (along w/the prices of games) -- sorry, I don't have $55 for a game. Beer > Games.

      Support free software/beer! ;-)
  • by CrusadeR (555)
    Here's what one brick&mortar/online retailer is doing with regard to Xbox pre-orders:

    Gamestop [gamestop.com]

    The lowest level is 600 dollars, which seems a tad insane, even for the hardcore players who usually pre-order...

    • by tb3 (313150)
      That page is great! Look at all the shovelware that's included. And every bundle includes am 'MS Memory Card', even though it's got a hard disk, so the base system obviously doesn't ship with enough RAM.


      Here's the best quote on the page, "Don't pay exorbitant prices in auctions or wait in long lines for your XBox. Enjoy all the XBox has to offer with a great bundle from GameStop!" If $600.00 for a console and 3 games isn't 'exorbitiant' can someone tell me whatthehell is?

  • Uh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by James Foster (226728)
    Wasn't the GameCube going to launch at $99??
    Is the X-Box really worth 12 GameCubes?
    At $1200, I wonder if even Bill Gates would bother getting one of these shitty X-Boxes. The games are by far worse than any other console. It got totally slammed by the press at the last E3.
    Most hardcore gamers think the X-Box will turn out to be a poor console. So are Microsoft really expecting "casual gamers" to fork out $1200 for a console?
    It seems Microsoft is approximately one target audience short of a commercially successful console.
  • by generic-man (33649) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:32PM (#2172234) Homepage Journal
    On a whim a few weeks ago, I decided to shop around for a Game Boy Advance. Walking around in my local mall, I noticed a bunch of stores had signage up promoting the Advance, but were out of stock. Finally, the EBX had a couple of actual product boxes on display.

    Me: Are those Game Boy Advance boxes for real, or are they just boxes?
    Salesperson: (very smug) Yes, they're real.
    Me: How much?
    Salesperson: $200 and up.
    Me: (staggered) I'm sorry, what?
    Salesperson: Yup. $90 for the Game Boy, plus two games of your choice, plus our accessory kit, plus a two-year extended warranty.
    Me: Can I just buy the Game Boy for $90?
    Salesperson: No. It's our special package deal.

    The following day, I went to a local non-chain place, and they had plenty of Game Boys in stock. I picked one up for $100, no strings attached. Nintendo may not have mandated these "bundles," but just about every chain store latched on.

    Don't buy bundles, unless you like to get stuck with all sorts of stuff you don't want.
    • Ain't capitalism a bitch?

      People here seem to be forgetting the rock-solid principle that makes capitalism work in the first place: If you don't like something, don't buy it.

      This discussion has been full of comments about Microsoft "not having the right" to bundle the products, or that users are being "forced" to buy things they don't want. That's nonsense. If you don't like the price of the XBox you see in stores, buy it somewhere else, or don't buy it at all.

      You, as a user, have no intrinsic God-given right to own an XBox. If you have money and think it's a good deal, get one. If not, don't. It's just that simple.

      Naked Woman Seeks Sex at Airport [slant-six.org]

      • by Paul Komarek (794) <komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @01:58PM (#2172571) Homepage
        I agree with your assessment that people shouldn't buy things they don't want. However, it oversimplifies reality in many cases. Suppose you want Windows but don't want IE. Good luck. While we don't have a "right" to have Windows, many people find owning a license to operate Windows a necessity. The only reason I can write this without developing ulcers is that I'm not among this group of people.

        As for bundling, Microsoft does have a monopoly in the operating systems market (the Supreme Court may reverse this, but it seems unlikely at best). Under United States law, that status puts restrictions on their conduct with respect to the operating systems market (properly defined for PCs, yadda, yadda, yadda). I don't think this XBox bundling issue is relevant, because 1) The XBox isn't really part of the operating systems market in question, no matter what OS it is running, and 2) MS isn't doing the bundling themselves.

        However, I think there is an interesting point to be made about an acute failure of capitalism illustrated in this example. Those with the most money are most able to change pulic opinion about their products and competitors' products. I don't believe Adam Smith's "The Invisible Hand" took proper account of this. The closest hint comes from this excerpt:

        "Every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it...He intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention."

        The question then arises, what happens to a person that intentionally subvert public interest for his or her own gain? It is difficult to argue that Corporate America has the public's best interest at heart -- but this wouldn't bother Adam Smith. What I hope would bother Adam Smith is that many companies intentionally act against their customers interests. For example, recall the quote "The customer is the enemy" from the Arthur Daniels Midland case a few years back.

        Interestingly, Adam Smith did have something to say about those who use their business deliberately to help public interest:

        "I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good."

        So should Microsoft cut the "customers' best interest" crap that they want us to believe, and admit they don't care? Or should the voluntarily put themselves into Adam Smith's catagory of "those who affected to trade for the public good"?

        Coming back to my original statement, I believe Adam Smith was grossly naive about how a real market works, where people by stuff because they're told to buy it. After all, we're social creatures trying to harmonize with and improve society. We granted Microsoft the right to do business in our country and in the State of Washington, and I don't think that, as a society, we're reaping rewards proportionate to the privileges granted. Of course no one can say with certainty what things would have been like without Microsoft. My opinion is that we might have gained quality and *useful* innovation at the expense of some progress. And since we'll be here until the cows come home, I don't mind losing a little bit of progress.

        -Paul Komarek
        • I agree with your assessment that people shouldn't buy things they don't want. However, it oversimplifies reality in many cases.

          Mmmm, yes. Reality is NOT so much each purchase as an individual choice, but rather a result of a long line of individual choices, each based upon previous choices.

          Being forced to use or buy some individual distasteful thing is of course unfortunate, but in the end the result of choices that one makes. However, when one company's products are a factor in the somewhat primary choice between merely functioning in society and not, this should not be tolerated by society, IMHO.

          At the currently point in time, microsoft products are not _quite_ a necessity to function in society, so I don't agree with the DOJ that microsoft is a threat to society as a "monopoly". On the other hand, use of proprietary microsoft file formats is quite common in business, and you are at a disadvantage if you are unable to make use of them to communicate with other businesses. Proprietary formats are leverage for a company to gain a monopoly over one aspect of a functioning society, and society should not tolerate this. This should not be confused with the "monopoly" gained by a company by doing its business very well. As long as other companies are able to compete by interoperating with the same formats and protocols, a high percentage of market share through excellence should be applauded, not punished.

          So I conclude that perhaps a better law than the somewhat subjective and vague "monopoly" law would insist that protocols, devices, mechanisms and other technology used in the process of communication by individuals in society should be well specified and implementable by anyone without license or fee. This would make it impossible for Microsoft or any other company to "own" the technology used by society to function, without requiring open access to the expensively developed technology behind the protocols.
        • by HamNRye (20218)
          "When we came up with the program, we wanted it to be what's best for retailers," Microsoft spokesman James Bernard said. "This is based on what retailers told us they wanted."

          Hmmm, so the retailers are going to be sitting home with a couple of million X-Boxes playing those lovely bundled games. Oh, wait, the retailers are the middlemen not the customers...

          And then Microsoft can talk about how many millions of copies of "Virtual Paint Dyring" they've sold for the X-Box. Watch MS talk up its "Hot Selling" titles without ever mentioning that they were the price of admission.

          Pimp: How'd you do??
          Whore: Great, and all the guys really love this dress.
          Pimp: Hunh? How do you know they like the dress??
          Whore: Because I wouldn't sleep with them until they said they liked it.

          The saddest part of all of this is that Jane and Joe MidAmerica have gotten too used to being screwed by large corps. and will most likely buy into this BS too. And to be fair, If my kid just wouldn't shut up about the darn thing, I'd probably cave and buy it eventually and principles be damned.

          I can think of a relevant little saying that went around the holler when I was a yung'un: Just because there was a shotgun to your head doesn't mean you ain't married.

          ~Hammy
        • This kind of talk really spooks me. You've ***granted*** Microsoft the right to do business? If Microsoft and I want to trade money and products, what business is it of yours? Mind your own damn business.

          Only a Slashdotter would have so much chutzpah (and unintentional irony) to say that Adam Smith was naive about how the market works. Anyhow, let's examine the question you pose: "What happens to someone who subverts the public interest for their own?"

          How is the public good being subverted here? If someone doesn't thing the bundle is a good deal, they won't buy it. If enough people don't buy it, then the retailers will be forced to un-bundle it, or lower the price. What's the problem? Public good is preserved.
          • I didn't make any specific references to the Xbox bundling when discussing subversion of the public good. In fact, at the top of my post I pointed out that the Xbox bundling wasn't really that interesting.

            Yes *we* granted Microsoft the right to do business in the United States. Why did you turn "we" into "I" in your attack? I expect it's because you couldn't find enough to attack otherwise. The U.S. economy and law are public matters, not private. Just try to start your own business without obtaining the right licenses. If you're a lemonade stand, nobody will care. If you're the size of Microsoft, people will care. And I think they *should* care. Your transactions with Microsoft are probably uninteresting and don't affect the public good, unless "you"=="Compaq" or "you"=="Fred McLain" (old story from early 1997, more relevant today than it was then) or "you"=="Government of England".

            Suggesting that Microsoft has an inalienable right to do business in the United States is pure bullshit. Suggesting that I shouldn't care about public issues in my society is sinister. If you don't care about public issues in your society, and you live in any sort of roughly democratic state, then you are irresponsible.

            The Government in the U.S. is here to enact the will of the people, taken collectively. Your response points out exactly why the U.S. is so often accused of selling out to big business -- because so many of its citizens put the individual (as long as "the individual"=="me") above the society, and fail to see beyond their own immediate interests. The horrible lack of effective mass transportation in major cities like Seattle, WA is a fine example (especially if you've followed the history of Seattle and light rail service).

            Back to subversion of the public good. I didn't want to dwell on specifics. But if you want one, take the bundling of IE and Win98. It was unnecessary, by the admission of Microsoft executives under oath. Users of Microsoft products, large (Boeing Corporation) and small (my father) didn't want it. Now we've got tax money helping decide whether they violated antitrust law, because Microsoft wouldn't back down on an unecessary bundling in the face of social pressure from Federal government, several state governments, some corporations, and some individuals. Whether or not they're a monopoly, whether or not they should have bundled IE, there was no good reason for them not to back down in this particular case. And don't get all macho or touchy-feely trying to defend their precious pride.

            -Paul Komarek

    • First of all; IANAL (who is, anyway?)

      In Belgium, it's against the law to bundle something and sell that bundle exclusively. You are allowed to make a special 'package', but if you just want to buy the box and not the games, they can't stop you. It's called 'koppelverkoop' and it goes far.

      Oh and don't think this is never enforced.

      Dave
  • by PRickard (16563) <<moc.cb-sm> <ta> <rp>> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:39PM (#2172265) Homepage
    We're introducing this awesome new gaming platform, it's gonna be all the rage this fall. Everybody will be buying our console, and you can port your existing DreamCast and Windows games over to it easily. We're going to put Nintendo and Sony out of business, so don't even bother making a version for their consoles anymore.

    Oh, and I forgot to mention... We're going to buy up half your competitors (at least 5 in the last 2 years), then release new versions of their well-known old titles (Marathon, MechWarrior, etc.) for our new console and bundle those with it at a "discount" so you can't hope to compete with us. Have a nice day.

    Now the console game publishers can find out how it feels to be a Microsoft developer. The Behemoth is doing to this industry what it keeps doing to its Windows patners - promising them the world and then slowly screwing them over by bundling competing products and eating away at their market. Why can't one of these companies figure this stuff out?

  • I just know MS has some kind of tie-in to eveything else planned for their Xbox, I don't know what it is yet, but hey've got something up their sleve.
    I'm an old nintendohead, I got me a PS2 last week, it's good (I think Game Cube will be better), but it'll be better once I can boot a linux web-browsing terminal on my TV set. I predict having Linux compatability will become the norm and this will boost any console that can run Linux. This also means developers can develop games for Linux that run on consoles and PCs. Sorry MS, it's too late for you.
  • by tspilman (135105)
    http://www.gamestop.com/default.asp?sect=1160

    You've got options... just don't buy it. I mean give me a break... it's not like their forcing you to install XP or something! They give you a bundle with some games, an extra controler, a memory card, and the DVD addon... all things that most consumers would be buying anyways. It's their console.. they could bundle a Kia with it if they want... just don't buy it. Hell.. I'm impressed that they have a bundle with *14* games avalible on release day in the first place. I am gonna buy one, i'll just wait till i find a bundle i like or just not get one. Tom
  • The article doesn't seem to mention if Microsoft is giving bigger incentives for bigger packages. Are retailers creating $1200 bundles because it will get them better marketing, or because the retailers themselves want bigger sales? And did Sony do something similar for the Playstation 2 as well? I remember that up until a couple months after the PS2's launch, you couldn't seem to find a PS2 console without game bundles. Everyone wanted to sell their PS2s with three extra games, for $700 (Canadian.) The one or two stores that didn't bundle never had them in stock.

    I always figured it was better for the retailer to sell bundles like this. "A PS2 by itself is no good; you're going to need to start your game library too. Why not buy them with us?" That's when I would say, "of course I need games, but the games I want aren't the ones you're trying to sell me. Can't I make my own bundle?" It made me wonder whether they had some marketing deal with some third party to bundle those specific games. It's obviously good for the retailer to entice you to buy your first games with them, but what's wrong with giving you a choice?

    Remember when consoles came with a "free" game? That's how the Nintendo came to be forever linked with Mario, and Sega with Sonic. Some critics have pointed out that Playstation doesn't have an "identity," because it lacks its own character. But even the original Playstation came with a demo disc -- the PS2, the Dreamcast, the XBox, all come with nothing. After buying a Dreamcast, I had to pay for Sonic on top of that -- it seemed like a hidden price increase.
  • People are used to getting lots of games, etc prepackaged with their computers for free.

    I think that alot of consumer bad will is going to be generated with such an obvious grab for profits. [I know that I am going to spend some time heckling sales people on the Xbox over the holidays.]

    It isn't like Microsoft doesn't have an image problem in this area to start with.

    [heheheh]

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  • by small_dick (127697) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:58PM (#2172326)
    Lower sales for a criminal enterprise is a good thing.

    Most market studies show, for the non-geek computer user (which is pretty much the entire PC market) people are tired of:

    1) Incremental PC performace increases.
    2) Expensive S/W and H/W upgrades every two years.
    3) Arrogance on the part of S/W and H/W manufacturers along the lines of "...we deserve access to your pocketbook every two years".

    People are tired of these ridiculous PC upgrade cycles.

    The market is saturated. Most studies show that everyone who wants a PC already has one, and doesn't want to spend a lot of money on another.

    Gaming? The game sales are off, it's lost it's luster. After Columbine, parents want their kids out riding a bike or playing with their friends, not zapping their eyes on lame FPS regurgitation.

    Today's PCs are the 8-tracks of the future. Piece of shit boat anchors. $1200 for a throw-away, non-upgradble PC? That will be behind the performance curve the day it's released? In a down economy?

    Families who may have just gotten layoff notices are going to send $1200 to a federally convicted monopolist, who is the richest man in the world?

    Well, this is America. I guess it might be a big hit.
    • This is so stupid I'm in awe.

      1) Incremental PC performace increases.

      Yeah, I know I personally hate it when technology improves. Wouldn't it be a much better world if they had just stopped with the 8086?

      2) Expensive S/W and H/W upgrades every two years. 3) Arrogance on the part of S/W and H/W manufacturers along the lines of "...we deserve access to your pocketbook every two years".

      Yeah, I know I personally hate that gun to my head every two years. Those bastards!

      Families who may have just gotten layoff notices are going to send $1200 to a federally convicted monopolist, who is the richest man in the world?

      Guess what... a "family getting laid off" has nothing to do with whether someone is the richest man in the world or not. The pie is not limited.

      Not to mention that Bill Gates is personally guilt of nothing, it's Microsoft that has been deemed "a monopoly" by a judge who was judged biased, if not corrupt.

      This was probably a troll, but it was moderated up, so there might be someone out there who is buying into this BS.

      • > This is so stupid I'm in awe.
        > Not to mention that Bill Gates is personally guilt of nothing, it's Microsoft that has been deemed "a monopoly" by a judge who was judged biased, if not corrupt.

        Learned hand, heal thyself.

        --Blair
      • This was probably a troll, but it was moderated up, so there might be someone out there who is buying into this BS.

        I hate to play the devils advocate here, but the troll did bring up a few good points, even if they were presented in a somehwhat inflamatory manner.

        1) Incremental PC Performance increases

        Looking over at pricewatch [pricewatch.com] I see that P3s are available fromm 450Mzz to 1GHz, hiting every 50/66MHz jump, and a couple speeds are produced in both 100 & 133 FSB versions (AMD has essentially the same gig going). Joe Sixpack doesn't understand the concept of binning, they just see a dizying array of numbers, and get led around like lost puppies by sales clerks. Now, you and I may realize that we can save $50 by going w/ the 933 instead of a 1G, but Joe is really concerned about how much of a difference those 77MHz really make. The success of the x for Dummies books aside, most ppl don't like being made to feel stupid.

        Again, it doesn't matter if the ecconomic pie is a limited resource or not, a lot of ppl are concerned about the current ecconomic downturn. Most people, when they hear Microsoft think Bill Gates, and most ppl associate Bill Gates with money. Now, even though Sony is a large multinational corporation, they're a large faceless multinational corporation. I can't see the average, slightly struggling American wanting to the personal fortune (remember, most ppl think Microsoft == Bill Gates) of the richest man in the world, when they can just buy an equivalent machine from Sony (which really has no connotation in their minds, save perhaps the Walkman/PSX).

        Again... remember that most people can not separate Bill Gates from Microsoft. To them, Bill gates is the man in charge of writing Windows much in the same way as Lee Iacoca was once equated with Chrysler. Even if he has no say in the running of the company he's still the figurehead and mouthpiece, which furthers this along.

        Besides, Microsoft was only able to successfully appeal the punishment, not the verdict.
        • It may be even worse for MS than you suggest. My perception of Sony, which may be fairly typical, is "large Japanese company that produces very high-quality electronics at reasonable prices." I don't think very many people associate the word "quality" with Microsoft.
  • by JoeShmoe (90109) <askjoeshmoe@hotmail.com> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @12:59PM (#2172333)
    When you go and auction that new XBox on eBay, will it get pulled because you are including copied of Microsoft software?

    Or, if you return the console...will they force you to keep the games because they have been opened (despite the fact that you didn't open them)?

    This is really quite a big mess. We have software and we have hardware. When you try to mix the two (unless you are including it free of course!) there are all kinds of sticky devlopments.

    - JoeShmoe
  • This sounds like a marketing plan conceived before the US went into recession. Last year, a $500 game device might have sold. This year, probably not.


    The Xbox is, after all, a repackaged PC, with about the same parts costs as a PC. The Xbox probably won't be profitable for another two years. From Microsoft's perspective, though, ownership of a new plaform two years out is worth some front-end losses.


    In some ways, Microsoft is starting to slip. We're seeing more bad ideas out of Redmond, and more bad execution. Many of the Microsoft millionares are vested now, and have cashed out.
    They have a brain drain problem. (At the low end, I'm seeing mis-picked shipments from Microsoft Spare Parts. I recently ordered two service packs on CD. The first time, I received instead a grey Microsoft Intellimouse instead.
    On the second try, Microsoft sent me a 25 license pack of Windows 2000 Server. (I don't even run Windows servers.) Microsoft didn't used to screw up like that.)

  • by Mike Hicks (244) <hick0088@tc.umn.edu> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @01:43PM (#2172498) Homepage Journal
    I don't understand how there can be ``Loyal XBox fans'' when the console hasn't even been released.. What magic pixie dust does Microsoft have in order to get so many people hyped up about their console (which they announced two years in advance of release -- something many companies are not allowed to do)
  • It worked for Office(tm).. and IE... and Media Player...

    This is standard MS tactics. The only difference is that MS doesn't hold a monopoly here, so it's legal this time.
    • Not only is it legal, it's moral and ethical as well! If [insert linux-friendly company here] did the exact same thing we would be cheering. Discounts on bundles is not legal, it's commonplace!

      The only reason people are bitching is because of the word "Microsoft". If there was an article about Microsoft giving their employee pay raises we would all be in an uproar about their keeping talent out of the job market.
  • I fail to understand the problem here.

    What was the problem with Microsoft bundling IE with Windows and offering volume discounts to OEMs? Because they had a monopoly on certain classes of software. What they did was perfectly legal, ethical and moral if performed by any smaller company.

    But Microsoft does not have a monopoly on game consoles.
  • Seems like the anti-Microsoft sentiment here is starting to cloud everyone's judgement.

    Retailers often require that you buy games with a new console to protect themselves. This is because, besides the fact that Microsoft is losing a significant amount of money on each console, there is usually very little to no store markup on these systems. Given that most people buy these systems with credit cards, the retailer is sure to lose money selling a standalone console. On top of this, most of these people buying consoles at a loss to the retailer are the ones who are putting them on ebay and making a mean profit. Its just not fair.

    So, to boil it all down, selling packages like this is nothing new, and it protects the retailer probably more than it does Microsoft.

  • by fmaxwell (249001) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @03:01PM (#2172832) Homepage Journal
    On the one hand, Slashdotters, taken in total, believe that Satan is just one of Bill Gates' minions and that Microsoft is evil incarnate. On the other hand, many people on here get upset when Microsoft does something that will make their products less appealing. This story is a prime example. How many parents in a slowing U.S. economy are going to rush out and buy a $1,200 game console that includes a bunch of games that their kids don't really want? So what if Microsoft makes it the ultimate game console. That's one notch above "the ultimate cotton swab" as far as most people are concerned.


    What would have me worried would be Microsoft selling the XBox for $149, paying a $50 trade-in for existing consoles (to reduce the user base), and giving away a bunch of games. All that they are doing with this kind of predatory pricing is convincing parents that their kids can make do with the existing Sony/Sega/Nintendo/whatever console.


    Moderators, please note:

    use of bold text to emphasize a point

    negative portayal of Bill Gates and Microsoft

    title not "*BSD is dying"

    "fp" does not appear in title or body

    prediction of negative outcome for Microsoft

    "elite" not spelled "3l33t". "z" not replacing "s" at end of words (e.g., "hackerz")

    message not critical of Apple, Linux, or BSD

    Taken in total, those things must be worth a karma point or two.

  • by Craig Maloney (1104) on Saturday August 18, 2001 @03:09PM (#2172864) Homepage
    Unfortuantely Microsoft is learning the lessons of 3DO the hard way. When first introduced, the Panasonic 3DO console had a price tag of $800, sans software. At launch there were very few software titles available, and even fewer "must have" games. While Microsoft sems aware that very few people will pay more than $299 for a console machine, bundling these machines with multiple games which may or may not be good is ludicrous. The only reason I can see for bundling a console with a game nowadays (outside of pack-in games) are games that require special controllers like gun-games or driving games. If this isn't their strategy, and Microsoft is just bundling for the ske of bundling, they're in for some stiff competition when the Game Cube arrives, and Sony gears up for ther Christmas promotions.
  • Please judge XBox for XBox. The bundle deal encouraging Microsoft titles would only be anti-competitive if these titles were available for other systems. There are two viable other choices, and XBox, PS2, and GameCube sales will reflect what people want.

    What we have here is a Playstation One vs. Jaguar vs. 3DO situation all over again. Which will be the Jag? You decide.
  • Does anyone know if Sony is expected to lower the price of the PlayStation 2 once Xbox and gamecube are released? And if so, to what price point.
  • Heck, a crappy deal on an unproven console might help the competition for a while. Hard to say. But it is a fact that MS has a significant amount of competition in the game console market, very much unlike the desktop market.

    I wish people would chill with the claims of "unfair tactics" and simply notice that this is common when a company moves into a new industry, before economies-of-scale kick in for manufacturing... All console manufacturers (Nintendo especially) have bundled games to help initial profits for new console projects.
  • by mikethegeek (257172) <blair.NOwcmifm@comSPAM> on Saturday August 18, 2001 @07:44PM (#2173625) Homepage
    "Microsoft's games carry higher profit margins for the Redmond, Wash., company than those published by third-party companies such as Activision Inc. and Electronic Arts Inc."

    Which is why it's SUICIDE for established game companies to program for the X-Box. Microsoft, in effect, will be using them to kill themselves. We all know that whenever MS enters any market, be it word processors or web browsers, they do it for the sole purpose of leveraging all their other might to "embrace, extend, extinguish" any and all competition. To me, it makes no sense for a game company to waste effort on programming for a rival software company when there are already viable alternatives, like Sony and Nintendo. If they wouldn't do games for X-Box, it will fail.

    Fortunately, in the case of game software, MS's own history is against it. Though MS has produced a decent game here and there, they are FAR from the dominant player on the PC platform. This is because to have a megahit game title REQUIRES innovation. The real thing, not that word that MS, in Princess Bride fashion, continues to misuse. MS has always been an imitative, not innovative company.

    Even the games that they have had success with (Age of Empires, etc) were imitations of products already on the market. They won't be able to get away with always being months behind whatever is "new and hip" in the console market, ergo, why they need the third party game companies on their side.

    Also, it remains to be seen as to whether the X-Box will be a success. Will game console users, who so far are largely BSOD free, tolerate MS bugs? Since the X-Box is running Windows, it's not likely to be any more stable than any other PC running Windows, though the advantage of supporting only ONE hardware configuration will add stability that the average `Doze box won't have.

    Which is perhaps what the X-Box has most against it... It's basically a non-upgradable `Doze PC in a game console box. Which means that it will quickly fall behind the conventional PC in power and capability.
  • Usually, when it comes to Microsoft, their marketing department can do no wrong (unless you're looking at it from a legal standpoint). The marketoids in Redmond are so good at their jobs that Microsoft can put the same old operating system into a new box with a new splash screen and still have people lined up on launch day to buy it.


    But this has got to be the stupidest move they've ever done, quite possibly the stupidest thing any marketing deparment has ever done in the history of marketing.


    I mean, let's look at this: In the coming three-way console war, there is little if anything to distinguish the systems. Sure, GameCube doesn't allow DVD playback, but I think the ability to play HDTV-resolution games out of the box (something I read in the latest Popular Science) helps make things more even. Beyond that, the three hardware platforms are more or less within spitting distance of each other.


    But of the three, the XBox is gearing to be the most expensive of the three options. Even without this new "deal" they got going, PS2 has been in production long enough to justify a price cut around XBox launch time, Nintendo doesn't have to bribe the DVD-CCA, and the XBox price has to cover that hard drive.


    Because the three consoles are pretty much neck and neck, the best they can do is win the software war: The winner will be the one that has games only for their system that will make people want to buy that system. Of the three, only Nintendo really has in-house coders that can pull this off, and even they'll need help this time around. Everybody should be scrambling to throw money at third parties to develop exclusively for their system and their system alone.


    Instead, the folks at Microsoft now pretty much insist that you buy the system bundled with first- and second-party games. Aside from the fact that this essentially drives up the cost of the system more, customers aren't going to have much money left to buy third-party games. While this tactic might be profitable for Microsoft in the short-term, third-party publishers stand to lose money by having games ready for system release, and that ultimately hurts Microsoft hardware sales in the long term.


    What in God's name are they thinking?!? They're setting themselves up to hemorrhage cash at a time when they should be shoring up for a possible XP injunction in the US and/or EU.


    Let me try to be impartial for a moment. Even though my violent gut instict is that they have no chance in hell of surviving in the console market longer than Dreamcast, maybe they have a chance. After all, they took over so many other software markets from their competitors. But how could they pull this off?


    They could try giving away their new software for free, much like they did with IE. However, that $500 to $1200 price tag doesn't exactly have "free games" written all over it.


    They could try using a marketing blitz to get name recognition for their games. Well, I'm a video game junkie, I know upcoming GameCube and PS2 games, but I can't name a single XBox-exclusive game. Sure, there is a marketing blitz in place pushing the console, but if I can't name a game for the system, I'm not sure it's all that effective.


    They could try absorbing a good, well-known third-party game company into the Microsoft fold. But the pending console war makes it much more profitable for a third-party publisher to be hardware-agnostic. The more systems they publish for, the more likely they're going to sell.


    Finally, they could try writing the best damned games on the planet. But even then, they'd have one heck of an uphill climb simply because they'd have to prove themselves. Everybody knows Nintendo, Konami, Capcom, SNK, Sega, and all those other big names in the industry make good games. Microsoft is more of an unknown than anything else.


    And I haven't even touched on things like how the PS2 sold better as a DVD player than a game console on launch, how Microsoft's UltimateTV set-top box still needed to be patched, how Microsoft has neither Zelda or Final Fantasy...


    So what the heck were they thinking? Is there some sort of Master Plan that I'm missing here, some sort of Byzantine, Illuminati-ish conspiracy involved that will help them more systems? I mean, they can't be THAT stupid... can they?

  • Yes, bundling is done. Like, I have to get one game with PS2 and so on. Adds about 10% to the price of the box. And, why would I buy the console without a game? As far as I can pick the game, it's OK.

    However, "everyone" is not going to force You to buy extras worth twice the price of the barebones system. I don't need to get a second controller, wheel and pedals, and three games someone else chose for me when I buy the PS2.

    And guess what? I will buy the consoles due to games. That is, I don't have a PS2, as the games I want it for weren't out when I last visited gaming stores. When they are, I'll happily get the games I want in the bundle with the PS2 - perhaps I'll even save a dollar or two in the deal.. ;)
  • That phenomenon where you relase a copmputer product at a loss to sell soemthing else, and Slashdot bankrupts you by teaching everyone how to turn it into a Linux sevrer or workstation.

    Not that I'm against it in this particular case. In fact, I think Sun should create a special "Solaris-x86 8 Install Disc for XBox" and gvie it away :)

  • So, by the time the X-Box is out, it will be:
    • a PC-architecture box
    • running slower than what PCs at the cutting edge can do
    • with third party games discouraged through bundling arrangements
    • and the hardware problems are stoutly denied! There is no hardware problem, despite what you have read!
    • ...at up to twice the price of a mainstream PC?

    I think we can quit worrying about X-Box at this point. Hell, this type of desperation move suggests we maybe can stop worrying about _Microsoft_ at this point. For them to switch to full-on cash-vacuum mode THIS EARLY in a new market is horribly revealing. It's not about arrogance, either.

    We are viewing the spectacle of a Microsoft desperate for money.

    I'd love to see an audit of what they _really_ have. I would lay 50% odds that right now their liabilities exceed their assets- and 60% odds that their much touted cash reserves are a _lie_. Look at their actions! Are these the actions of a company that can afford to dump product to gain a new market against stiff competition? Since when was Microsoft stupid about competitive threats? This isn't about arrogance at all. This is desperation, and they are in trouble. And not competitive trouble- _cash_ trouble.

    I wonder at what point will they be unable to meet payroll and their financial obligations except by accounting trickery- or perhaps this has already happened?

With all the fancy scientists in the world, why can't they just once build a nuclear balm?

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