Japan: 360’s Lukewarm Launch Reception

US software giant Microsoft went on the offensive on the home turf of its Japanese rivals Saturday, launching its sleek new Xbox 360 console ahead of the holiday season in a tough battle for business.

The queue [whats with the bone/skull staff?!]

Some 200 game fans queued up for the main launch event that began at 7:00 am at a music store in central Tokyo’s fashionable Shibuya district.

“We signal the beginning of what we believe will be market leadership even here in Japan,” Xbox marketing head Peter Moore said at the launch.

Mr Moore doing his ‘meet and greet’ part

Yoshihiro Maruyama, who heads the Xbox division in Japan said: “We are feeling a very positive response. We want this machine to attract a far greater number of Japanese users than the previous model.”

When Microsoft brought the first Xbox game console here in 2002 it was nearly two years behind Sony’s PlayStation 2 and it has trailed ever since. This time Microsoft is doing its utmost to avoid history repeating itself.

The next-generation Xbox 360, which costs 39,795 yen (330 dollars), comes ahead of next year’s launch of PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Revolution.

But despite its early market entry, consumers Saturday appeared muted in their enthusiasm in contrast to the excitement generated at the console’s US debut on November 22.

Only some 10 people were in line when a central Tokyo outlet of the Bic Camera consumer electronics chain opened its Xbox sales counter at 7:00 am.

Yeah…you could say they were pretty excited!

Customer reactions “are a bit subdued,” a senior store official said, adding that fewer than 50 consoles were sold in the first two hours.

“It’s not going to be a big hit in Japan,” said 26-year-old Kentaro Okamoto, one of the first Xbox 360 buyers. “I buy every new game console… but normally Japanese customers only buy a machine when it’s made by Sony or Nintendo.”

He was pretty excited too, as was the guy on the left

Hard-core gamers overlap with heavy computer users and many of them have a negative image of Microsoft’s Windows software because of its price, lack of after-sales support and unstable operating system, he said.

“Microsoft needs to make enormous efforts to overtake its Japanese competitors,” Okamoto said.

Another buyer, Mayuko Taniguchi, 28, said she knew she was in a minority of Japanese consumers who would buy the Microsoft console.

“I think many people would rather wait for PlayStation 3 or Revolution,” she said.

Analysts say the first Xbox, which was launched in November 2001 and came to Japan in February 2002, flopped in Japan partly due to a lack of games that appealed to local tastes.

Microsoft has sold 21.9 million units of the first Xbox console worldwide since 2001 but only 1.8 million were sold in the Asia-Pacific region including Japan.

Sony Computer Entertainment said at the end of November its shipments of the PlayStation 2 console had topped 100 million since March 2000, including 22.2 million in Asia alone.

Source: Yahoo News

Anthony Barker

Anthony is the designer, developer and owner of Console Monster. In his spare time, Anthony is a keen gamer who enjoys playing mostly First-Person Shooters and Racing games. When he is not developing games or tweaking this site, Anthony likes to be on the slopes snowboarding or hurtling down off-road tracks on his mountain bike.

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