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Commonwealth Games 2002

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Friday, 11 January, 2002, 12:39 GMT
Xbox set for Japan
Xbox, MS
Xbox: 1.5 million sold in the US so far
Microsoft's Xbox games console will go on sale in Japan at a cost of 34,800 yen (189) from 22 February, the company has announced.

The machine will cost more than rivals Sony's Playstation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube, which sell for 29,800 yen (156) and 25,000 yen (131) respectively.

Playstation 2, Sony
Sony is the market leader
Microsoft hopes that the new technology in the Xbox as well as added extras not included in its rivals, such as broadband capability and a hard drive, will convince gamers to buy the machine.

More than 1.5 million Xboxes have been sold in the US since its launch last year and a similar amount will be released to the European market when it goes on sale on 14 March.

Confident

The machine will sell for 299 when it is released for the UK market - the same price at which the Playstation 2 was first sold.

Hirohisa Ohura, managing director of Microsoft's Japan unit, said he was confident the price would allow the Xbox to compete against its rivals.

GameCube, Nintendo
GameCube has yet to launch in Europe
"Microsoft sees the value of this market," said Mr Ohura.

He added: "It believes there's no success in the games market without scoring success in Japan."

The console will be backed by an aggressive advertising campaign with TV adverts and try-out events to attract the hard-core gamers.

Snowboarding

Xbox flags will hang in the streets of Shibuya, Tokyo's hangout for the fashionable young, and the green X-shaped logo will dominate numerous huge screens on skyscrapers in the district.

The Xbox name will also be at a concert of a popular Japanese hip-hop group as well as a snowboarding event.

Microsoft expects to shift between 4.5 million and six million Xboxes worldwide by the end of 2002.

More than 23 million Playstation 2 machines have been sold worldwide since March 2000 while Nintendo has shipped 2.7 million GameCube machines so far - 1.3 million in Japan and 1.4 million in the United States.

Sales

All three companies are hoping to dominate a market which is becoming increasingly lucrative. People in the UK now spend more money on computer games than on renting videos or going to the cinema.

Sales of computer games hit record sales in 2001 of more than 1.6bn. Demand for software and consoles increased by 36% on the previous year.

Analysts estimate video game sales in the United States in 2001 surpassed 1999's record of $6.1bn.


In DepthIN DEPTH
Video games
Console wars, broadband and interactivity
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