One of the more maddening aspects of the Xbox 360 has been Microsoft's insistence on a "two model" strategy. A bare-bones, cheap version, and a souped-up expensive one. It's helped shift units, especially since Kinect's release, but it's also held other Xbox 360 games back since developers can't assume everybody has, say, a hard drive.
I'd like nothing more than to see this strategy go away quietly into the night, but according to a report from Digital Foundry, Microsoft is looking at sticking with it for the next Xbox console.
"It's...believed that Microsoft will continue its successful two SKU strategy", the story claimed, "and indeed take it much further with its new platform: a pared down machine is to be released as cheaply as possible, and positioned more along the lines of a set-top box (the use of 360 as a Netflix viewing platform in the US is colossal) and perhaps as a Kinect-themed gaming portal, while a more fully-featured machine with optical drive, hard disk and backward compatibility aimed at the hardcore would be released at a higher price-point."
Interesting. That actually wouldn't be too bad; if only the "hardcore" console had an optical drive, then the "pared down" version would only play Xbox Live Arcade titles, leaving developers of larger, disc-based games free to design for the beefier machine.