NEWS - Monday, December 12, 2005

Xbox 360 Core System A Global Necessity

Xbox 360 Core System is critical to global market - Moore Core System necessary for price-sensitive markets and over the console’s lifespan Peter Moore has reiterated Microsoft’s conviction that Xbox 360 will exceed expectations in Japan, and has spoken in more detail about the importance of offering a "Core System" alternative outside the region - both in terms of price-sensitive regions at launch, and as the system matures throughout its life cycle. Speaking to US website 1UP on the eve of the Japanese launch, which took place on Saturday, Moore said that the Core System - which retails for UKP 209.99 and consists of a bare bones Xbox 360 without a hard disk - was important going into countries like China, Russia, India, Poland, Hungary and Latvia. "Those are markets we’re going in. We’re going to globalize this industry, and price becomes a big issue." "[W]e need to offer cascading price points in 2008, 2009, 2010, to bring in tens of millions of gamers each year. And the flexibility the Core System versus the Premium SKU gives, is that," he added. In terms of the Japanese launch, Moore said that the "overall strategy" was the same in terms of branding and tagline while TV advertisements and "tactical marketing" would differ slightly. Moore was robust in his defense of the global launch strategy, although he did effectively concede that the Japanese day-one line-up was less than ideal. When it was suggested that having big titles at the Japanese launch would have been important, he compared it to the PlayStation 2 - widely thought to have grown stronger following a weak launch period. When asked if the global launch was the right decision, however, he responded, "Absolutely. It’s a marathon, not a sprint." Dead or Alive 4’s slip to December 29th, widely publicized in the past week, was a question of integrity, he said - it was non-negotiable that it be finished before it shipped. He went on to argue that, "a year from now, everybody will have forgotten that it was two weeks after launch." Microsoft has also raised eyebrows with news that Japanese-developed or produced titles like Ninety-Nine Nights, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon and Enchant Arm won’t be ready until 2006 either, but Moore insisted that all were quality propositions, and argued that the free beta of Square Enix’s port of PC and PS2 massively-multiplayer RPG Final Fantasy XI available to Japanese Xbox 360 buyers was "a big deal". The Xbox gamer in Japan, Moore said, was quite insular compared to his European or American counterparts due to the language barrier, but some did make forays into the worlds of Halo 2 and other Westernized gaming environments. He also said that he expected Xbox Live Silver, which allows for chatting between Xbox 360 owners although no gameplay, would be popular, and that Xbox Live Arcade, which allows players to buy and download older arcade games and submit scores to global leaderboards, would be "huge" and "a killer app". Reflecting on the US launch, Moore expressed regret that more units hadn’t been available, but said, "The fact of the matter is, there are a lot of people loving playing Xbox 360 around the world right now." The US launch sold out "in minutes", he said. Whether the console would see that kind of success in Japan wasn’t something Moore was prepared to be specific about. "I sense the demand is strong," he said, but didn’t offer any estimates. Xbox 360 is technically on sale worldwide now, and Microsoft hopes to meet demand by re-supplying retail channels on a weekly basis.


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