The Xbox 360 Is Scarce Right Now, Due To 'Viral' Kinect EffectS

Microsoft warned this week that getting your hands on a new Xbox 360 right now may be more difficult than normal. You can blame Kinect's eight million sales for part of that, says Microsoft.

This is essentially Microsoft saying "Bad news, guys: we had a totally awesome Christmas. Sorry!" The Xbox maker boasted at CES 2011 last week that it had sold eight million of its Kinect camera controllers (to retailers) during the holidays, more than the five million it had originally counted on. Xbox 360 sales also topped 50 million, the company said, a milestone that will have repercussions for potential buyers of the console.

Microsoft spokesman David Dennis told Kotaku that to get Xbox 360s on store shelves during the holidays, the company had to dip into its January and February supply. What was planned to be shipped over on a boat and arrive during the first two months of 2011 was instead brought over by plane instead.

But Dennis says that the "viral effect" of the Kinect launch is also to blame for scarcity. "I think we saw a lot of viral secondary and tertiary sales from people who had seen Kinect in person," Dennis says, at a friend of family member's house, then decided it was time to "jump in."

I asked Dennis if he thought Kinect's holiday sales were a validation for the controller's price point ($150 USD), a price that was met with some vocal resistance.

"Our story hasn't changed there," he said "When we announced the price, we'd done a lot of research. We had a lot of crazy smart people doing focus testing to really hit the sweet spot on that, and we were confident in our price point."

So, don't expect that price tag to go down any time soon.

For now, Microsoft says that the console is "not impossible to find" and that stock should "normalize" in February. For those of you on the retail front, are you seeing the same thing? Or are you drowning in Kinect sensors and copies of Fighters Uncaged?