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— *Amazon* discounts Xbox Live Gold membership: Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) has knocked 40 percent off the price of a 13-month Xbox Live Gold membership — giving gamers access to the networked playing service for about $30 as opposed to $50. PC World’s Matt Peckham questions whether this is just a one-off vendor reduction, or the prequel to a permanent price drop coming from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), particularly as Sony (NYSE: SNE) bulks up its free PlayStation Network offering. But gaming and devices division revenues were down year-over-year in Q3 for Microsoft — and with the surging Xbox Live subscriber numbers president of entertainment and devices Robbie Bach touted at CES — it’s not clear whether the company will want to (or can afford to) drop the Gold membership price itself.
— Far fewer freebies at GameTap: Online gaming service GameTap is slashing the number of free games available by nearly 100. GameTap Gold subscribers will still be able to play the games, which include titles like Ghosts’N Goblins and Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend; the unlimited service costs about $60 for the year or $10 per month. GameTap rolled out the freebies to entice newcomers to subscribe; community manager Frank Cifaldi said the strategy had worked “incredibly well” via the company blog. The service offers more than 1,000 games in all, about 40 of which will still be free. *Time Warner* unit Turner sold most of GameTap to Paris-based game distributor Metaboli last September. It still retains an equity stake.