NEWS - Thursday, October 13, 2005

MS Confident About Global Launch

MS Anxious, But Confident About Global Xbox 360 Launch The worldwide launch of the Xbox 360 is fast approaching and Microsoft is scrambling to make sure all regions are prepared to make their respective launches as smooth as possible. Although MS is confident it will get the job done, there’s no denying that the company is a bit concerned over the monumental challenge ahead. As soon as Microsoft proudly trumpeted that they would be the first video game company to launch a new console in three different regions of the world (U.S., Europe and Japan) within just a few weeks, most wondered if it would really be possible. Could MS successfully pull off this gargantuan feat? Well, apparently industry watchers aren’t the only ones casting some doubt on the task. In recent interviews, Microsoft’s top Xbox brass admitted that they have some concerns over the logistics of a worldwide launch. Launch anxiety "There’s a reason no-one has done this before and we are figuring that out," Peter Moore, Microsoft’s corporate VP of worldwide marketing and publishing for Xbox told BBC News. "If we knew what we were getting into, we might not have done it." [ "No matter how big the number is, we are going to sell out... We are going to have some disappointment with retailers and consumers," J Allard, Corp. VP and Chief XNA architect ] Microsoft has already spent billions on the first Xbox in order get a foothold in the video game industry—according to a recent Forbes report the Xbox division has lost roughly $4 billion—and now the software giant will likely have to dig deeper still into its seemingly endless pockets to ensure a smooth global launch of its next-gen console. MS reportedly has upwards of 2,500 people working on the worldwide 360 launch, and the company will utilize every plane available to ship its product. "We’re going to ship all around the world; how we’re going to do that, I don’t know," commented Moore. "We’re going to rent every 747 we can find." Working hard to get it done Corporate VP and Chief XNA architect J Allard echoed Moore’s sentiments in an interview posted on Eurogamer this week. "Will it go without a hitch? No. We’ll have some logistics issues, it’s going to be difficult," admitted Allard. "We’re buying a lot of capacity on planes and on boats and we’re going to be co-ordinating a lot. Do I think it’ll go flawlessly? I don’t, but I think it’s the right thing to do, and I think we’ll look back on it more convicted [sic] than ever that it was the right thing to do, and we’re very committed to it." He continued, "It’s a lot of late nights for a lot of people, and a lot of hard work, and we’re going to get some heat. It’s never fun to work really really hard and then get heat from the media, from retailers, from the consumer because we didn’t have enough of the things or because something wasn’t quite as perfect as we’d like it to be in our execution, but the team signed up for it, because it’s the right thing to do." Despite very legitimate concerns, Microsoft seems quite confident that its Xbox 360 launch will be a smashing success. "No matter how big the number is, we are going to sell out," Allard predicted to the BBC. This, of course, will lead to frustration among some consumers who won’t be able to get the new system on time for Christmas. "We are going to have some disappointment with retailers and consumers," said Allard. Tweaking the final lineup With the 360 hitting store shelves in a little over a month, there are still some things not yet finalized, including an official list of original Xbox titles that will be backwards compatible on the new system—rumor has it that an initial list is expected to appear on in a week or so. More importantly, however, is the 360 launch lineup, which is still not finalized. "These games are not far from being done, and if they’re three weeks after the launch or they’re on launch day I don’t think it makes a significant difference," said Allard. Added Moore: "They make it or they don’t. It’s no big deal if a game takes another week. The consumer will get a strong line-up." According to David Reid, director of platform marketing for Xbox, at least eight titles (3 from MS and the rest from EA) will be available on day one: Project Gotham Racing 3, Kameo, Perfect Dark Zero, Madden NFL 06, NBA Live 06, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06, Need for Speed Most Wanted, and FIFA 06: Road to FIFA World Cup. It’s likely that Tecmo’s Dead or Alive 4 and a few others will make it as well, but we won’t know for sure until the official launch list is revealed.

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