NEWS - Monday, October 18, 2004

Xbox Beats PS2 In Singapore

MICROSOFT has trounced Sony’s PlayStation 2 (PS2) and Nintendo’s GameCube to become the No. 1 gaming console in Singapore. Microsoft’s home and entertainment division manager Alex Chua claims Xbox now has a market share of 65 per cent, more than the other two consoles combined. Mr Chua said: ’We don’t have official figures but what we hear from our partners like Challenger, Harvey Norman, Best Denki and gaming website Gameaxis is that we are leading.’ Yet, in a quick survey of small retailers just last month, market tracker GFK Asia says PS2 still has a slight edge over its rival in what they estimate to be a $7,000 monthly turnover for console hardware. An Xbox console costs about $288, while PS2 retails for $299. A retailer in Great World City even claimed to sell up to three PS2 units for every Xbox sold. The discrepancy is not entirely unexpected. Larger electronics stores tend to only stock Xboxes as the PS2 consoles imported by Sony are from Japan and do not support many English titles. Small retailers, however, seem to sell more PS2s as they rely on parallel imports from the United States and Europe. Some also tap on the market for pirated games by selling modified units. However, both retailers and gamers interviewed by The Sunday Times agree that the Xbox’s aggressive marketing, online play support and key partnerships with the likes of Starhub and NTUC Club have chipped away a large chunk of PS2’s pie with little signs of letting up. This is no mean feat since Xbox was only launched two years while PS2 made its appearance in 1999. At their annual preview party X04 last Tuesday, Microsoft announced a range of new titles including the much awaited Halo 2 bumping their games library to over 250 games. One of the strongest selling points so far has been Xbox Live which was launched just earlier this year and allows gamers to play with others online. Said Mr David Al, a 24-year-old network engineer who also owns a PS2: ’My friends and I can play Rainbow Six on Xbox Live up to 4am every morning. Now my PS2 is gathering dust.’ Mr Mike Wong is another Xbox convert. ’I used to have a PSone (PS2’s predecessor) but I changed to Xbox because most of the imported games for PlayStation were in Japanese,’ said the 33-year-old video editor. He ranks Project Gotham Racing 2 as one of his favourites. Microsoft has every intention of riding their early momentum with a string of exciting releases announced at X04. The most anticipated, of course, is Halo 2 - the sequel to the all-time best-selling game for the Xbox. The new version of the popular first-person-shooter franchise will feature online play, improved graphics and new weapons. Microsoft has already lined up a barrage of television, print, cinema and outdoor ads to launch what they hope will be the biggest game of the year on Nov 9. Other exclusive titles include Dead Or Alive Ultimate, Forza Motorsport and Kingdom Under Fire. When contacted, Sony declined to comment on Xbox’s claim that it’s the No. 1 gaming console in Singapore. However, the company did reveal that it would be bringing in the new slim PS2 to Singapore by the end of the year. The new PS2 will be only 2.8cm thick compared to the current 7.8cm and will be able to play existing PS2 games as well as various rewritable DVD formats. A spokesman for Sony said: ’With the new slimmer PlayStation 2, we’re confident that we’ll win even more fans in Singapore and globally.’


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