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Price of next-gen gaming? $1,710

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Gaming has never been an inexpensive hobby. But as the industry moves into its next generation, the emphasis on cutting edge graphics and sound, mixed with increased development costs might have gamers double checking the balances on their savings accounts.

The first test comes this fall, when Microsoft debuts the Xbox 360. The company hasn't announced a price for the machine, but several industry observers believe it could cost $399 -- $100 more than new consoles have traditionally cost.

"I think [higher hardware prices are] a distinct possibility," said P.J. McNealy of American Technology Research. "There's more technology in the box and it's not getting any cheaper -- especially if you look at the added multimedia functionality."

Game prices, too, could be on the rise. Several CEOs, including those from Take Two Interactive Software and Activision, have acknowledged next generation games will carry "premium" pricing -- likely a $5 to $10 increase at retail.

"I think we ought to assume that $59.99 is going to be the place we start for game prices," said John Taylor of Arcadia Research.

Now, granted, the calculations for that $1,710 quote we gave are unscientific. Your final price might be lower. But it could also be significantly higher. Let's break it down.

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