A 12 month gold card is $40 online
So they're selling it to you at $180 per year at $15/month. You're paying a 300%+ markup per year on the membership to get the $99 bundle. Unlike AT&T 2 year telecom service for smart phones, this ISN'T money you would have paid anyway.
on 24 months, you're paying $140 * 2 over the online subscription cost. So You're paying $280 more making the total price of the console $380. How much is the XBox + Kinect bundle right now?
$350. So you're paying an interest charge too.
I bet Sony and Nintendo do not follow. MSFT is pricing down a device whose new games are $60+ and they're removing the ability to play used games in the next device. Sony is about to release it's new console next year.
It's like they had the factory in China make too many of these and they're sitting in a closet somewhere where they can't be written off. Why else would you defer income like that over 2 years?