Retail slashes Premium Xbox 360 to £199
Microsoft distances itself from retail promotion while rival stores slam heavy discount of the next-gen machine.
Retail chain Makro has slashed GBP 80 off the price of the Xbox 360 Premium console - reducing it to same price as the cheaper Core unit.
Makro is currently selling the Premium package, which normally retails for GBP 279.99, for GBP 199.99 - with the retailer telling GamesIndustry.biz it has plenty of units in stock.
"It's something we're doing to bring customers into the stores, it's not an official price cut from Microsoft," confirmed Joanne Armstrong, spokesperson for the buying team at Makro UK.
When asked whether the company only had a few units to sell at the drastically reduced price, Armstrong revealed, "We have plenty of machines in stock and we'll be running this promotion for two weeks."
The retailer is also selling a bundle containing Project Gotham Racing 3, Arcade Unplugged and an official wireless controller for GBP 34.99, as well as chart games priced at GBP 36.99.
Following the move, rumours of an impending official price cut have reignited - but Microsoft has distanced itself from Makro's price cut.
"Xbox does not control the retail price of the Xbox 360 videogame and entertainment system - prices are set by retailers," a spokesperson said.
"The promotion that Makro is running is not endorsed or administered by Microsoft."
Meanwhile, rival retailers have been quick to slam the actions of Makro for reducing the price of a console that is still performing well in stores across the country.
"If the machine was selling badly, I could understand a price cut. But the machine is selling well, along with the software," said Don McCabe, MD of Chips.
"It's retailing at its worst," said another retailer, who wished to remain anonymous. "It sounds too cheap - maybe they are refurbished units.
"It's not rational. It may just be a small number of units at that price and when they're sold out they keep the customer hanging for a higher priced unit. Some see it as a well-recognised retail technique to get people into store, others call it a rip off."
McCabe is one retailer who believes Microsoft won't cut the price of the 360 in the near future, not even with the impending release of the PlayStation 3 in Europe on March 23.
"Microsoft doesn't need to cut the price when it's still cheaper than the competition," he said.
"The big rumour is that there may be another model coming - a black model, with a bigger hard-drive. That would be the sort of spoiler that Microsoft could use to dampen the excitement of the PS3 launch.
"But price isn't the issue, it's about going shoulder to shoulder on a technical level, so a new model 360 would make more sense," McCabe concluded.
UPDATE: Makro prices do not include VAT as its customers are business users. With VAT, the total price for an Xbox 360 purchased at Makro is GBP 234.99.