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Monday, November 21, 2005

Xbox 360 to kick off console wars

Xbox 360 to kick off console wars

"A new generation of video gaming kicks off on Tuesday when Microsoft's Xbox 360 goes on sale in the US.

It marks the start of a new phase in the history of gaming, promising more realistic and better-looking games.

The sleek, silver console goes on sale in Europe on 2 December and Japan shortly afterwards.

Sony plans to release its PlayStation 3 in the spring, with Nintendo also planning a new console for 2006, giving Microsoft a head-start over its rivals.

The Xbox 360 marks Microsoft's bid to conquer a fast-growing industry worth some $25bn globally.

"It is the first shot across the bows and Microsoft wants it to be heard around the world," said Michael Gartenberg, a technology analyst at Jupiter Research.

"This is going to be a war that's going to last several years."

Power at a price

Microsoft described the 360 as the most powerful console ever seen on the planet. The machine offers processing power on par with the most high-end PCs, as well as high-definition graphics.

The 360 can also be used to listen to music, view photos and watch current DVDs, signalling Microsoft's aim to make the console part of the entertainment system in the living room.

But the increased computer power comes at a price. The high-end version of the 360 costs $399 (£279 in the UK) and the basic version $299 (£209), while games are also expected to be more expensive.

Microsoft is looking to sell three million of the new consoles worldwide within three months, with Xboxes churning off the production line as fast as possible.

But game enthusiasts could be disappointed when they go to buy a 360. Many shops are only getting a handful of machines and these are likely to be taken by fans who have placed pre-release orders.

Some US stores are planning to open at midnight, selling their machines on a first come, first served basis.

"The supply problems are there in as much as the demand is unbelievable," said Peter Moore, the chief marketing executive for the Xbox.

But he denied production problems and dismissed theories that the company was holding back machines to build up a buzz." [more]

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