NEWS - Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Microsoft Expects Staggered Launch By Region

Microsoft Corp. expects a lag of a week to 10 days between regional launches of its Xbox 360 video game console, which will debut later this year, Chief Xbox Officer Robbie Bach said on Wednesday. The Xbox 360 launch will kick off the next major battle in an entertainment industry growing to rival Hollywood, as Microsoft and Sony Corp. create sophisticated games with extremely realistic graphics. "We will launch in North America, Europe and Japan in the same holiday season," Bach said at the Reuters Technology and Telecoms Summit in Tokyo. "There will probably be a week or 10 days in between the different territories, just to give us a chance to manage the logistics." Microsoft aims to supplant Sony as the global video game franchise leader with the new Xbox. Some 15 to 20 games for the new Xbox will be ready at launch and 25 to 40 by the end of the year, Bach said. Sony aims to launch its PlayStation 3 in the spring. The video game industry has $10 billion in global revenue, rivaling U.S. movie box office sales, and Microsoft expects Xbox to become a growing force in home entertainment as it interacts with home computers to play music and media and taps further into the Internet. Video game titles regularly top movies in terms of first-day sales, but while films can keep bringing in revenue for years thanks to DVD, pay television and broadcast television sales, video game revenue drops quickly. Bach and Yoshihiro Maruyama, general manager of the Xbox Division in Japan, said the 360 was designed to foil software pirates so that sales of genuine products would not be displaced. Microsoft lost money with its first Xbox consoles, but Bach said the new one was better designed from an economic perspective, using fewer off-the-shelf parts, for example. "There are going to be times when we lose a little money on the hardware, times when we make a little money on the hardware," he said. "In the end what we’ve been telling people is, think of the hardware as something that kind of breaks even, plus or minus, and the focus when it comes to the business side in terms of making money is on selling a lot of great games."


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