NEWS - Friday, August 30, 2002

Xbox in Japanese Net Cafes

Microsoft Corp on Thursday announced a new way to lure gamers to its Xbox by allowing Internet cafe users in Japan to play its games online. "The number of Internet cafes is increasing in Japan and demand for online games is growing," said Tomoyo Nakao, a spokeswoman for Microsoft's Japan unit. Starting from next week, Microsoft said it will license about 250 Internet cafes in Japan to offer two of its games, "Dungeon Siege," a role-playing game set in the medieval times, and adventure game "Age of Empires II." The company said the two games are originally designed for personal computers and more of its PC online games will become available for cyber junkies. As competition in the video console market intensifies, Microsoft has been trying to woo gamers partly by gearing up for online games. The U.S. software giant also said it is studying to license Internet cafes, many of which have broadband fast Internet connections, to offer the games developed for Xbox. The Japan Complex Cafe Associates (JCCA) said the number of Internet cafes in Japan is still at around 1,600, compared with 20,000 to 25,000 in South Korea, but the number has been growing. Currently, such cafes charge about $4.20 an hour that includes fees to play online games or surf the Net, the JCCA said. "In this tough economic climate, people like the service at Net cafes where they could play as much as they want at a relatively reasonably price," a spokesman for the JCCA said.


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