NEWS - Friday, September 27, 2002
Microsoft to Localise Xbox GamesHONG KONG, Sept 27 - Software behemoth Microsoft Corp, which has gotten off to a slow start in Japans cutthroat console gaming market, will launch its Xbox system later this year in Taiwan and South Korea with localised versions of games sold elsewhere. "Rather than wait until we felt like we had the critical mass of local games, were going to rely on the global titles and then build up a portfolio of locally appropriate games," Michael Rawding, Microsofts Asia president, said in an interview. According to Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, as of mid-September Microsoft had sold 274,000 Xboxes since the green and black consoles late February rollout in Japan, putting it behind Nintendo Co Ltds (7974.OS) GameCube and Sony Corps dominant PlayStation 2. Microsoft hopes the January launch of its online game service in Japan stimulates demand for the Xbox, which will have 80 game titles available there by this years holiday season, Rawding said. "The situation is quite clear -- its a tough market -- we knew it was going to be tough, but were committed to it for the long run," the youthful looking 38-year-old said. "We have a lot of games already, and we have a lot more coming on line." While Microsoft has in-house game development capability in Japan, it does not in Taiwan or Korea. In those two markets, Microsoft plans to "take the hot U.S. games and make sure theyre properly localised," the Tokyo-based Rawding said. He said that Microsoft would also "take advantage of the innovation thats happening in Japan, because there are some similar tastes among the gamers." He said Microsoft will also work with local game developers in South Korea and Taiwan, where personal computer based games -- as opposed to console systems -- are especially popular. "Over the multiyear period, as we also get titles in the Taiwan and Korea markets from local developers, that will further accelerate the market for us there," he said. Microsoft will also launch the Xbox this year in the smaller markets of Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. Rawding would not say how the Xbox will be priced in its new markets. A US$100 price cut in May helped stimulate U.S. sales, and Microsoft has said it sold 3.9 million Xboxes worldwide as of the end of June. Microsoft is estimated to lose US$76-$100 on each Xbox which retails for US$199 in the United States and about 249 euro in Europe.