NEWS - Friday, March 31, 2006

Xbox 360 Relaunch Planned For Japan

The Xbox 360 is to be relaunched in Japan in late June in response to weak sales of the console, according to a report today which cites sources at Japanese wholesalers and indicates that an announcement of the relaunch could come next week. The report, which was published by German website GameFront, suggests that a press conference being held next week by Microsoft in Japan will be the venue for the announcement of this major change in strategy for the firm. June 29th is fingered as the date of the relaunch, which coincides with the changed release date for a number of major titles - Sega’s Chrome Hounds, Idea Factory’s Spectral Force 3: Innocent Rage, AQ Interactive’s Bullet Witch, and Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. It’s not yet clear what form the relaunch might take - whether it will see the console’s pricing or bundles being changed, or if it will simply be a new marketing campaign focused on the locally relevant software available for the system. Japan was the only territory where the Xbox 360 did not sell out at launch, despite having a smaller allocation than any other market, and in fact the launch underperformed by comparison with the launch of the original Xbox - itself hardly a stellar success story in the region. The console is currently selling somewhere over a thousand units per week - around the same kind of volumes as are being shifted by the GameCube. As well as the four titles mentioned above, Microsoft will also be hoping to stimulate interest in the console with the imminent releases of Rumble Roses and Ninety-Nine Nights, both of which are due to arrive in the next month.


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