For $149, Project Natal is a New Xbox 360. Period.

Posted by Peter Kern

There is a good chance that several websites may have spoiled the Microsoft Project Natal party on June 13.

Several websites have come out and claimed connections to reliable sources that now say that Project Natal will cost $149, which is about 50% more than the rumored price so far. Also, a website claims to know the name of Project Natal and says it will ship with the name Wave.

Microsoft may have sabotaged itself by releasing a brown Zune MP3 player and by naming its social cellphones Kin, but we have serious doubt that Microsoft will be naming the Natal device Wave.  There is already a website called Wave that is operated by Microsoft and that is used to “bring you the freshest developments and products to come out of Microsoft.” Wave is an overused word in the tech industry that may imply a consumer friendly device and signify movements you can do with Natal, but we hope that Microsoft can be a bit more original.

What is much more credible is the rumored price point of $149 or a $299 bundle with the Xbox 360 Arcade. This speculate price is $50 up from the $99 price tag we have heard so far, but in line with Steve Ballmer’s hiccup from last year when he announced Natal as a new Xbox 360 and a recent note from retiring Microsoft Entertainment chief Robbie Bach that Natal is a “midlife kicker” that will produce a new experience for the Xbox 360.

To be able to refresh what is essentially an old console - the Xbox 360 turns 5 this year – and entirely change the gaming experience is a massive effort and it appears that Microsoft is on track to do just that. And for $149 Natal is darn close to the $199 of the Wii and the $199 of its Xbox 360 Arcade, which, conceivably, could be described as a new console by itself – at least if you only look at the game experience.
 
We patiently wait until June 13 when Microsoft will show Natal for the first time and we will wait for October 26, when Microsoft is rumored to release Natal. But, please, not as “Wave.”