Best Buy, GameStop get Xbox subscription plan & $99 Xbox

Microsoft will begin offering its Xbox subscription plan through brick-and-mortar retailers Best Buy and GameStop, the company has announced.

Until now, the plan had been available through 17 Microsoft Stores, and allowed customers to purchase an Xbox 360 and Kinect motion sensor for $99 (£64) with a two-year contract. Under the offer, customers pay $14.99 (£10) for two years of access to the Xbox Live network. The Xbox and Kinect combination usually retails for $299 (£193), with Xbox Live Gold running $60 (£39) per year.

The subscription offer will now be available at all US Best Buy stores, as well as some GameStop stores, the company said. No word yet on whether UK or other international customers can expect to see similar subscription plans anytime soon.

The decision to extend the plan is seen as a strategy to increase sales by offering users a more manageable upfront cost. The Xbox 360 is a leader in the game console market, ahead of Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Wii with 42 per cent market share.

A judge at the US International Trade Commission recently found that Microsoft had violated four Motorola patents in the Xbox, and recommended that the US impose an import and sales ban on all Xbox video game consoles.