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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Xbox 360 shortage conspiracy

Xbox 360 shortage conspiracy

"Contrary to popular belief, the Internet was not created as an academic research tool, or indeed, invented by Al Gore. Some say "the Internet is a communication tool used the world over where people can come together to bitch about movies and share pornography with one another" but this neglects another prime use (aside from reading bit-tech of course) and that is cooking up a good Conspiracy Theory.

This week's Rumour Control on Gamespot does just that, with suggestions that Microsoft are deliberately engineering a shortage of Xbox 360 consoles at launch in order to make their global roll-out appear more successful. Sound crazy? Let's look at the evidence.

Last week, Gizmodo reported that Norwegian retailers are being allocated just 20 consoles each: 6 core editions and 14 premium editions. As a condition of this, each shop or chain has to sign an agreement stipulating that they must sell all 20 units on the 2nd December release date. In addition, retailers must agree to bundle at least two titles per console.

Microsoft Norway allegedly confirmed that they would be leveraging this 'Sold Out' tactic to further hype the console. Intruiging? Yes. Disturbing? Most definitely, but wait - there's more!

Kotaku scored some insider info on Target's launch plans. Again, allocation is an anorexic 25-50 units per store, and curiously, managers have been told to pre-print a large 'Sold Out' banner to be displayed when all consoles are gone. The conspiracy theory dictates that this is less of a service to inform customers waiting in line, and part of an evil plot to have every store across America proudly shouting "we have sold out of Xbox 360!"

Why so few units for such a large chain? ArsTechnica quotes reliable sources at some major retailers that they "have been informed by Microsoft that they will be getting as few as one-third the number of Xbox 360s that they had planned for. The rest of those initial shipments are being diverted to the likes of Wal-Mart and Japan." This rumour easily qualifies for a Mythbusters Plausible award: Wal-Mart is the biggest retail company in the world, and when they say 'jump', manufacturers say 'how high?'. Microsoft are also desperate to address the relative failure of Xbox in Japan by maximising Xbox 360's lead on PlayStation 3. This suggests gamers queueing up at their local EB or other gaming retailer may go home empty handed.

The outlook online appears to be just as bleak. Some readers have already been informed that they will not be receiving consoles on Launch Day, with one claiming he pre-ordered so early that there wasn't even a MSRP at the time. Yet he was told he still was not high enough up the list. Gamestop have been "sold out" for quite some time now, though curiously, if you have US$2000, you can still secure a console, providing you also buy every launch title as part of their Omega Bundle." [more]

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