A new survey issued by Microsoft to select Xbox Live subscribers has given several hints regarding new products and services being considered by the company, including new controllers and the concept of paid-for beta testing.
The detailed survey asks whether users would be interested in a redesigned Xbox 360 controller which includes backlit buttons, rubber grips, a “premium” color (black in the photoshopped illustration) and “slightly improved D-pad performance”, all at a cost of $59 to $69.
A second joypad is also described, and pictured, which is designed specifically for use with Xbox Live Arcade games and would cost between $29 to $39. The illustration of a possible design is highly reminiscent of the iconic Atari 2600 controller.
Another potential new piece of hardware mooted by the survey is a “mini-keyboard” plug-in device for Xbox 360 controllers, to enable text messaging and chat, priced at between $19 to $29.
The survey also attempts to poll acceptance for new microtransaction prices, including a price of $0.99 for music downloads, to be accessible in-game. An additional service priced at $14.99 per month is also described, which would allow subscribes to stream music from a library of over two million songs.
A price of $19.99 for movie downloads or $1.99 for TV shows is also mentioned, along with a price of $3.99 for “renting” movies which are subsequently deleted from the hard drive. A $5.99 per month subscription for accessing ten to twenty Internet radio stations via the Xbox 360 is also described.
The final points in the survey attempt to discern interest in two more potential Xbox Live services. One of these is the idea of integrating a fully functional web browser into the 360's Xbox Live package, as with Nintendo Wii's additional Opera browser service.
Perhaps most controversial in the list of possible new services is the idea of participating in beta tests of forthcoming games for “an additional incremental fee”, an idea unlikely to be well received by hardcore gamers. However, all of the concepts listed are obviously under consideration only, meaning that survey feedback may change Microsoft's plans.