Microsoft have ended their Xbox 360 contract initiative today with a small statement from David Dennis, appointed spokesperson: “This program was intended to be a pilot experiment from the start, and Microsoft routinely adjusts the mix of offers available to its customers and this change was simply standard business practice.”
The initiative, originally reported by The Verge in 2012, was available in the United States only and enabled gamers to purchase an Xbox 360 Kinect Bundle for $99 USD with the remaining value of the hardware subsidised through a 2-year contract at $15 USD per month. Much like a mobile phone contract, the initiative gave users certain benefits like access to Xbox Live Gold membership, streaming content, and sports packages for its duration; although also like a mobile phone contract, the user would be subject to certain fees for early cancellation, usually full payment for the remainder of the contract.
The initiative was thought of as a way to encourage more people to use Xbox Live.
Early rumours surrounding the release of the Xbox One speculated that Microsoft would extend the initiative towards the new console although this was quickly put to rest considering the relatively poor performance of the existing initiative, which never extended beyond the United States.
The problems of the initiative were quite plain to see; it was introduced in 2012, near the end of the generation where most gamers already had an Xbox 360; the pricing plan worked out to be more expensive at $459 USD compared to $419 USD; while the attraction of a mobile phone contract is that at the end of the term, there is the possibility of getting a handset upgrade, whereas here there is not.
Impractical, it was just easier to buy the console outright. No upgrade to Xbox One either.