99deal
* Pay attention to that asterisk

Microsoft’s handful of retail stores are now offering an exclusive deal to purchase a 4 GB Xbox 360 video game console and Kinect motion sensor add-on for just $99. Which sounds like quite a deal until you read the fine print: You’re also required to sign up for Xbox LIVE Gold for two years at $15 per month. And when you add that all up, you don’t really save any money over the parts purchased normally. In fact, you come out behind.

Let’s do some math.

$15 for 24 months ($360) plus $99 comes to $460 over two years. But if you were to visit the same Microsoft Store (assuming you could find one) and buy an Xbox with Kinect bundle for $300 and then two years of Xbox LIVE Gold at $60  per year, it adds up to just $420. So you’re paying a $40 premium in order to get the $99 “deal”.

Of course, you’re paying that extra over two years. And $40 over 24 months works out to less than $2 a month.

Aside from the money, the other issue is that Microsoft’s retail stores aren’t particularly easy to find. Depending on where you live, you most likely won’t be able to take advantage of this deal even if you do want to.