Microsoft has finally pinned down exact launch dates for
the 360's arrival in America, Europe and Japan. U.S.
gamers can expect to pick up an Xbox 360 on November 22,
while Europe and Japan will receive the console on Dec. 2
and Dec. 10, respectively. While at TGS, Microsoft also
emphasized its intent to succeed in Japan this time
around. Over 40 Japanese publishers are committed to Xbox
360. More inside...
It's finally official. On the eve of the Tokyo Game Show
Microsoft announced that it will launch its Xbox 360
system in North America just before Thanksgiving on
Tuesday, November 22. Following the U.S. debut, 360 will
arrive in Europe on Friday, December 2, and will then hit
Japanese store shelves on Saturday, December 10.
This three-pronged launch marks the first time that a
video game console has been released in three different
territories in such a short timeframe. In order to
achieve this multi-region launch, the logistics need to
be just right. Microsoft says it expects "massive
worldwide demand" and therefore, in preparation the
company has gotten manufacturing well underway, producing
millions of hardware units.
"This holiday season, gamers in Japan, Europe and North
America pining to experience jaw-dropping high-definition
graphics, unmatched online play and compelling digital
entertainment features of Xbox 360 will finally have the
chance," said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer for
He continued, "Renowned development studios around the
world are busy putting the finishing touches on their
Xbox 360 games. We expect a strong portfolio of titles on
launch day and through the holidays that will appeal to
fans of every genre and gamers in every region, and with
more than 200 games currently in development, continuous
new additions to the library are on the way."
Importance of Japan
While demand for the next-gen console is likely to be
strong in North America and Europe, it's not clear how
great the interest will be in Japan. Obviously, the
original Xbox has struggled in the land of the rising sun
and MS would like to change things with the 360; however,
a recent Japanese market survey by Infoplant showed that
only 6 percent of console buyers said they planned to
purchase the Xbox 360, while more than 70 percent said
they wanted to get a PlayStation 3.
Microsoft has been courting/signing Japanese developers
and publishers left and right to make sure that they have
games to appeal to Japanese players' tastes. The biggest
problem with the first Xbox in Japan was that it
practically screamed "American." Now MS has over 40
Japanese publishers on board for 360, including Bandai,
Capcom, Koei, Konami, Namco, Sega, Square Enix and Tecmo.
Bach and other Microsoft executives plan to further
detail the company's Xbox 360 strategy for Japan during
"The Japanese market is the most important key for the
Xbox's global strategy. Microsoft is committing fully to
its success in Japan," Yoshihiro Maruyama, general
manager of the Xbox Division in Japan, told the press,
according to Reuters. "We will continue to make as much
effort as we can to make the Xbox 360 successful in
Maruyama said that seven games would be available in
Japan at launch and that 20 titles would be ready by the
end of January 2006; in North America, however, MS said
that 15 or more titles would be ready at launch and
upwards of 40 by the end of this year.
While MS is shipping two differently priced SKUs in North
America, it's been revealed that part of the strategy for
the Japanese market is to offer only one SKU. The premium
version, which includes the 360 itself, a 20GB detachable
HDD, a wireless controller, a media remote control, an
Xbox 360 Headset, a Component HD-AV cable, an Ethernet
cable, and batteries, will be sold for 37,900 yen (just
The news that Japan is getting the premium 360 at a
cheaper price has already fueled the flames over the
two-SKU approach on many gaming message boards. The fact
is, though, that Microsoft needs to do all it can to woo
Japanese fans. It knows it will get the support it needs
from the Western markets. According to Maruyama, the
reason for one SKU with the HDD in Japan is that more
Japanese gamers have broadband connections and also more
digital content that would necessitate a hard drive would
likely be available in Japan than other territories.
However, MS reportedly also made the decision to sell the
one SKU with HDD to support the beta launch of Final
Fantasy XI on Xbox 360 this winter, and if Xbox 360 is to
succeed in Japan it needs the backing of an RPG
powerhouse like Square Enix.
Microsoft has not yet revealed shipment targets, but
Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter
believes MS will have at least 2 million units ready for
sale in the U.S. and Europe and will probably sell 1.5
million in less than a week.