Interesting news on the Xbox front: According to The Verge, Microsoft is planning on launching a special Xbox bundle through their chain of Microsoft stores in the U.S.  The bundle, which includes the 4GB Xbox 360 console and Kinect sensor, is launching at only $99 and will include and Xbox Live Gold subscription.  People who take Microsoft up on their offer will pay $15 per month for the next two years and pay an early termination fee to get out of their “contract”.

At this point, anyone with a cellphone plan is likely getting flashbacks to signing their own contracts.  This could easily be a one off promotion by Microsoft; A small test to see the viability of such a program.  But if successful, such a strategy could possibly change the way we buy consoles in the future.  It’s not too far out there to suggest that if this program takes off that Microsoft or competitors could try this again in the future, getting consumers to subsidize their next consoles just like they do now with phones.  This could make the next generation of consoles more affordable for a lot of people (it’s a lot easier to swallow $15 a month than $400 all at once), and could even make “FIVE HUNDRED NINETY NINE US DOLLARS!” a lot more bearable.

What do you think?  Are subsidized consoles the way of the future, or just a flash in the pan?