If you've been waiting for the Xbox 360 subscription deal, you'll have no shortage of big box stores to choose from.
If you don't yet own an Xbox 360, Microsoft's $99 subscription plan may have already caught your eye. Today we finally get a glimpse at the first retailers that will carry the offer, and there aren't exactly any surprises on the list. GameStop and Toys R Us will begin offering the deal on October 28th, with Wal-Mart and Best Buy joining the fray one day later on October 29th.
If you're not yet familiar with the deal, let me lay it out: You can walk into any one of those participating stores and walk out with either a 4GB Xbox 360 Kinect bundle, or a 250GB Xbox 360, for $99. A 250GB bundle with Kinect will also be offered for a limited time at $149. Of course, there's a small catch to the cheap price tag: You'll need to sign a two-year Xbox Live contract that will cost you $15 per month.
It's the same kind of subsidy that lets wireless carriers offer you a phone or tablet for a huge discount, as long as you promise to pay for the service over a 24 month period. The company ends up making the money it needs to cover the cost of the hardware, but it's spread out over the length of the contract.
With this particular deal, you'll end up paying a bit more for the console over the long term, but if you don't have a lot of cash upfront - and if you're planning on using the Live service anyway - it may be your best bet to score the system this holiday season.