For around $50 retail, the Xbox 360 wireless controller represents one of several means by which Microsoft Corp. hopes to blunt the loss generated with every Xbox 360 console sale. Software titles may represent the mainstay for positive cash flow, but hardware accessories play a role, too.
Given that the $299 retail Core Xbox 360 system (console, no hard drive and only one wired controller) has an estimated cost-of-goods of more than $310, there can be little doubt that once other business costs and retail margin are accounted for, there is a financial hole to fill. It seems the gaming-industry model of consoles as a vehicle for future cash rather than standalone profits remains intact.
We'll try to cover the console in a later column but will start here with a really practical adjunct to the Xbox 360 environment: the wireless controller. With game-playing kids around, the risk of tripping on a stray controller cord is very real. And for those sick of cables in all forms, any chance to unwire and tidy things up is welcome.
The Xbox 360 wireless controller is designed with the same smooth-flowing shape that characterizes its wired equivalent. Only an underside bulge created from the snap-on battery pack in the wireless version differentiates these otherwise identical twins. Within the battery pack, two AA cells power things up. To further enhance the potential accessory spend, a socket on the front is available for plugging in an optional charger and nickel-metal-hydride battery pack. A second jack on the backside allows for a plug-in headset. While any standard headset will work, an official Xbox 360 headset available for the truly accessory-crazed.