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Last Updated: Saturday, 10 December 2005, 19:21 GMT
Muted hello for Xbox 360 in Japan
Xbox 360 debuts in Japan
Microsoft wants the Xbox 360 to win over new converts
Microsoft has launched its Xbox 360 games console in Japan to what seems like a more subdued response than it received in Europe and North America.

The software giant hopes to overcome rivals Sony and Nintendo by having become the first to release its next-generation console.

Queues formed for its main launch event in Tokyo but early sales were reported to be slower than at other launches.

Japan's games market is traditionally dominated by Sony and Nintendo.

The country is the biggest market for console games, after the US.

Sales of the first Microsoft Xbox in Japan have always lagged behind Sony PlayStation 2, which was launched two years before it.

The Xbox 360 costs 39,795 yen ($331; 188).

The price is cheaper than the comparable package in the US, where it sells for around $400.

Games shortage

An estimated 200 fans gathered the Xbox 360's main launch event in the fashionable Tokyo district of Shibuya.

Xbox marketing head Peter Moore said the launch signalled market leadership was imminent, "even here in Japan".

One senior store official said the customer reaction had been somewhat "subdued", with fewer than 50 consoles sold in the first two hours.

However, Mr Moore said that several hundred units appeared to have been sold at the store he was at within the first three hours.

Takeshi Tajima, a BNP Paribas analyst, told Reuters news agency that serious game fans would rush to buy the new console but "most people are going to wait and see".

Popular games have yet to be developed for the Xbox 360 and this was also likely to inhibit sales in Japan, analysts said.

Sony releases its next generation console, PlayStation 3, next year, when Nintendo also releases its new Revolution console.

The Xbox 360 went on sale in the US and Europe in late November and early December.

Queues of hardcore fans greeted the console on both sides of the Atlantic. It quickly sold out, partly because of limited supplies.

The 360 is estimated to have sold 400,000 units in the US and 75,000 in the UK.

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