Xbox Takes Europe by StormThe dust has cleared from the European launch of the Xbox™ video game system, the future-generation console from Microsoft Corp., and preliminary reports indicate its a runaway hit. Thousands of gamers lined up at stores in the 16 European launch countries on the evening of March 13 to be among the first to purchase Xbox, resulting in a near sell-out in its first day at retail. Early reports also show a huge demand for games and accessories, with most customers leaving stores not only with an Xbox system, but with several games and accessories. Top-selling games include "Halo™," "Project Gotham Racing™," "RalliSport Challenge™" and "Oddworld: Munchs Oddysee™" from Microsoft® Game Studios, as well as "Dead or Alive 3" from Tecmo, "Max Payne" from Take-Two Interactive, "WRECKLESS: The Yakuza Missions™" from Activision and "JSRF -- Jet Set Radio Future™" from SEGA®. "We have been pleased with Xbox sales over its first weekend," said Lisa Morgan, commercial director for GAME and Electronics Boutique. "Hardware sales were particularly impressive on launch day and weve seen a good attachment rate covering both first- and third-party games. The strong lineup of day-one games has undoubtedly contributed to a successful console launch for Microsoft." Microsofts replenishment strategy means that a steady supply of Xbox systems will be hitting retail outlets weekly, helping ensure there is enough product to meet current demand. Microsoft expects to ship between 4.5 million and 6 million Xbox systems worldwide by the end of June. Xbox is the only console manufacturer with a European factory (in Sárvár, Hungary), which means stock can reach any retail outlet in Europe in less than three days. "Im excited to finally see Xbox in the hands of gamers," said Sandy Duncan, vice president of Xbox Europe at Microsoft. "Ive always known that Xbox is the best video game system ever, but after playing games with people at launch I see that gamers also recognize the amazing power and intense fun that only Xbox can offer. European gamers have welcomed Xbox into their hearts and into their homes in a big way." Word-of-mouth recommendations and stellar reviews are driving gamers to the great games available on Xbox, including "Halo," which earned a perfect 10 score from the influential European gaming bible Edge. Twenty Xbox titles are now on sale, with more lined up in the next two weeks, such as "F1 2002" (Electronic Arts), "Genma Onimusha" (Capcom), "Championship Manager: Season 01/02" (Eidos) and "Shrek™" (TDK Mediactive Inc.). A steady stream of titles will support Xbox up to June 2002, including "2002 FIFA World Cup" (Electronic Arts), "International Superstar Soccer 2" (Konami), "Moto GP" (THQ Inc.), "Spider-Man®: The Movie Game™" (Activision), "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"(Electronic Arts) and "Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex" (Universal Interactive Inc.). "We had a very good weekend with Xbox," said Bruno Bonnell, founder and CEO of Infogrames Entertainment SA. "We have had to produce more copies of JSRF -- Jet Set Radio Future, one of our Xbox launch titles, to keep up with demand. TransWorld Surf is also doing well for us. This is a very good sign for the long-term success of Xbox, and we look forward to a long relationship." The buzz surrounding the launch of Xbox manifested itself in many ways. A survey of new Xbox owners by Amazon.co.uk (Amazon.coms U.K. division) suggested that 74 percent were planning to take a day off work to stay home and play games -- nearly half (46 percent) were going to feign illness as an excuse.