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Cheaper Xbox 360 development kit planned

New debugging console will be cheaper, faster and with optional Sidecar peripheral

A new version of the Xbox Development Kit with additional memory and a "considerably" lower price is to be released to developers, according to comments from Microsoft.

The new kit will feature extra RAM, flash memory, larger hard disc drives and a smaller case design. No figures have been offered regarding the price, but a Gamasutra report describes it as "a significantly reduced price from its predecessor".

Designed to make Xbox 360 development more affordable for smaller studios, the new hardware will also include the option to license a Sidecar peripheral for debugging and disc emulation. One Sidecar can be used across multiple debug consoles, further reducing costs.

Both the new debug kit and the optional Sidecar will be offered to existing developers, while it will become the standard offering in new licenses.

"Microsoft is known in the industry for providing easy-to-use tools that allow developers to create high quality games without a huge time investment," said Xbox Advanced Technology Group's Pete Isensee. "Now we're offering those tools at a lower cost to reduce their monetary investment as well."

"The redesigned Xbox Development Kit is also an indicator of our continued investment in the platform; it is one piece of our ongoing programs to support Xbox 360 for years to come," added Isensee.

Microsoft recently announced plans to introduce a new disc format for the Xbox 360, thought to free up an existing 1GB of space on standard DVDs. The solution is software-only though and should be reflected in all versions of the development kit.

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David Jenkins