Xbox Enters JapanMicrosoft Corp's Xbox faces a tough battle to catch up with Japanese electronics titan Sony Corp's PlayStation 2 (news - web sites) in the world of cyber video games -- a budding but potentially massive market.
The clash on terrain the U.S. software giant knows all too well is critical for the online market, possibly determining whether online games burst into the mainstream or fade into obscurity as an esoteric pastime for the gaming hardcore.
The hype intensified last week when Sony laid out an ambitious vision to link millions of users of its PlayStation 2 game console through Internet connections.
Sony, which has tied up with nine Internet service providers, outlined a fee structure for the service which kicks off in April and gave a hint at the software titles in store.
These will include "Final Fantasy XI" by Square Co, a version of the popular "Final Fantasy" series which has sold 38 million copies globally.
Sony hopes its first-starter advantage will lure nine million Japanese PlayStation 2 users to the service in an industry that analysts expect to grow almost eightfold in four years.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft, which will unleash its Xbox console in Japanese stores this Friday, has equipped its video game console with a built-in broadband modem.