No doubt due in no small part to Destiny’s newly released and well received The Taken King expansion, Madden 16’s glowing reviews, or most importantly the fresh off the presses Halo 5, Microsoft is getting an early leg up on the holiday competiton. Microsoft via Walmart is currently offering it’s next-gen console with a few odds and ends to up the value in preparation for the coming holiday season. The exclusive Walmart Xbox One holiday bundle includes an Xbox One with a 500GB Hard Drive, an extra wireless controller (which will normally run you anywhere from $60-$70) and your choice of either the aforementioned Destiny or Madden for only $349. If you do decide on Halo 5 as your game of choice, the price goes up a mere $10 to $359. At the worst, this deal will have you making out like a bandit, with savings of somewhere around $120-$130. You won’t find a better deal than that on this side of Black Friday.
Microsoft is cashing in at just the right time with the new additions to their game library. Destiny has been out for quite some time, but the stellar reviews of The Taken King expansion give enough incentive to Microsoft to include it in this new bundle before the holiday shopping spree really gets into swing in about two weeks. The inclusion of Madden in any bundle is never a bad idea, but this year’s edition has been hailed as the best in recent memory. Its inclusion also makes sense, because (other than the fact that it’s Madden) this bundle is happnening so early in the shopping season, that not everyone has gotten Madden 16 yet. It hasn’t been out as long and due to its limited time on the shelf, it still holds inherent value as a bundle item. And the inclusion of the extra controller will make or break the difference in many sleepover proposals. Come on parents! Not only could you be saving money here, but your kids could also be cool! How much is that worth?
Not to be outdone, Amazon is currently offering their own exclusive bundle of the same price. Their bundle, rather than coming with a second controller, comes with your choice of any four games for free with the Xbox. Now that sounds grand and all, and indeed it is, but we all know that Halo 5 will be the game that everyone from 9-year-old kids to grown men with with two or three of those same 9-year-olds will be begging for come Christmas morning. Halo 5 is the impetus for this deal. Simply having Halo 5 as an option to purchase will move more units of this Xbox bundle than if you got two free games not named Halo at absolutely no charge. Add to that the cost of Halo 5 in this bundle is a whopping $10 and you’ve got a recipie for success.
Microsoft deserves kudos for its decision to offer Halo 5 with this bundle. That sentence may read like it deserves a big “of course they do, dummy, it’s Halo. It’s the most popular game franchise that doesn’t star someone named Mario”. But that’s exactly the point. Microsoft didn’t overthink this marketing strategy, which it has done in the past. Does anyone remember the games that came with the original Xbox way back when? Jet Set Radio Future and Forza were the games bundled with their first console. How about the orignial Xbox 360? Kameo: Elements of Power is how Microsoft decided to show off their new console. Now, there was nothing abhorrent about any of these games. They were all fine. The original Xbox is actually given more liniency because it was Microsoft’s first foray into console territory and had no established properties exclusive to their brand. But the years have Microsoft its lesson: Dance with the girl that brought you. Halo is Microsoft’s console presence. Without Halo: Combat Evolved in 2001, there’s no guarantee that we wouldn’t be reminiscing on the Xbox as though it were the next Sega Dreamcast. Back in 2006 Gears of War offered a nice distraction and for a little while we all forgot about Bungie’s standout property and focused on Microsoft’s new main squeeze for a while. But for all the fun that those particular space marines brough us, Master Chief and the Spartans have stood the test of time. Dalliances can be forgiven, and now Halo stands alone as the Xbox’s killer app, as it has been for the last 14 years. That’s why this bundle will outsell any other grouping of console/accessory/game this holiday season (or at least until black friday/cyber monday roll around.)