Nintendo made news by announcing lowered prices on the DSi and DSi XL this week, but Microsoft has generated their own message board buzz today by taking some prices in the opposite director. Starting on November 1, twelve-month Gold subscriptions are going to rise from $49.99 to $59.99, three months will cost $24.99 instead of $19.99 and one month will run $9.99 instead of $7.99.
"Since launching Xbox Live in 2002 we have continually added more content and entertainment experiences for our members, while keeping the price the same," Xbox Live director of programming Larry Hryb wrote on his Major Nelson blog. "We're confident that when the new pricing takes effect, an Xbox Live Gold membership will continue to offer the best value in the industry."
Microsoft undoubtedly hopes that users will see that value in the video communication and ESPN features that it showed off at E3. Still, with Kinect already costing $149.99 this fall, higher subscription fees won't make the XBL transition into 2011 any easier.
Microsoft is taking advantage of their two-month window between now and the November 1 hike just as you would expect them to, with Xbox.com plugging the "act now" angle. Other card retailers like Newegg are likewise touting their $39.99 subscription cards. Those would have been fine deals anyway, but with this news setting off a ticking clock, retailers just got a great marketing push from Major Nelson.
Nevertheless, the pressure will be on Microsoft to deliver features to Kinectless users after November arrives. If ESPN looks as good as it did at E3, sports fans should appreciate where their money is going whenever that new service launches, but I can see how the average player who doesn't yet see a reason to buy Kinect might feel like they're being pressed to subsidize premium playing experiences for Kinect and Windows Phone 7 users that happen to have extra hundred-dollar barriers in front of them.
What do you make of the XBL's new rates? Does the news affect your plans to renew? Share your perspectives in the comment section below.