Microsoft has announced details on the pricing and packaging for the Xbox 360 that is expected in time for the holiday season.

Unofrtunately, Microsoft has decided to offer two different bundles for $299 and $399 respectively. The $399 bundle includes many features that were previously expected to be standard Xbox 360 features (20GB hard drive, wireless controller, Xbox Live membership), plus a headset and remote control. The $299 bundle includes a wired controller and none of the features above (most importantly no hard drive).

Based on previous reports it sounded like Microsoft was really pushing the boundaries of downloadable content and micropayments. Of course, none of this is possible without a hard drive. Now that Microsoft has created a segmented market (and given that most parents who buy their kids an Xbox 360 as a holiday present will probably pick up the cheaper bundle without a hard drive), I wonder how successful this aspect will be, and how many gaming companies will really try to leverage this functionality. In many ways, this destroys the main advantage that consoles have over the PC: consistent hardware specs.

I’ve been thinking about picking up an Xbox 360 when it comes out, but I for one am only interested in the more expensive bundle, and at $399 I am not sure I can justify this expense (especially when you figure in the each game will cost an additional $60). Too bad…