View Full Version : Asia to get Xbox 360 by March, Microsoft says

December 5th, 2005, 18:59
Microsoft Corp. plans to offer its Xbox 360 game console in Asian markets outside of Japan by early March, despite tight supply in the United States.

The head of Microsoft's Xbox business in Asia, Alan Bowman, said the console would hit the market in Korea on February 24 and Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore on March 2.

Microsoft's second offering in the game console market went on sale in the United States on November 22, and has been sold out at many shops. It went on sale in Europe on December 2 and is scheduled to reach shops in Japan on December 10.

Bowman, Asia-Pacific general manager for the Entertainment and Devices division, said Microsoft had resisted the temptation to delay international launch dates to meet U.S. demand.

"Believe me, that conversation happened," he told Reuters in a telephone interview on Friday. The comments were under embargo until Microsoft's launch announcement on Monday.

"We wanted to make sure within the first six months that we could get the 360 into all existing Xbox 1 markets."

"I'm very optimistic that demand is going to be significant. We're working very hard to keep supply up with demand," he said.

Microsoft has not yet decided on prices, though it said Asian prices would be in line with the United States and Europe. The Xbox comes in a bare-bones "core unit" and a premium version with more accessories such as a hard drive.

Microsoft has stolen a march in its bid to win market share from console industry arch-rival Sony Corp, which is slated to launch its next-generation PlayStation 3 next year.

However, Microsoft plans to rely on more than just an early launch to cut into Sony's commanding 70 percent share of the global console market.

Many Asian players have complained that the first Xbox had too many first-person shooters and sports titles, with fewer in genres that appeal to local tastes, such as role-playing games. Microsoft has courted Asian developers more aggressively this time around.

Korean developer Phatagram's "Ninety-nine Nights", which has impressed reviewers with hundreds of highly detailed enemies on screen at the same time, is expected to be a hit in Asia, and Taiwan's TWP Corp. is offering "Majong Online".

"We've really got a strong pipeline of material appropriate for Asia," Bowman said. "I think we've really made a lot of progress there."

Online capability also comes standard on the 360, rather than a separately-purchased service as it was on the first Xbox, and Microsoft has added an online marketplace to purchase and download small, casual games such as puzzle or card games.

"For us, the fact that Asia has high broadband penetration was a cornerstone for our original success," he said.