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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Microsoft Sells 39% of Xbox 360s in 1st Two Days of Japan Debut

Microsoft Sells 39% of Xbox 360s in 1st Two Days of Japan Debut

"Microsoft Corp. sold 39 percent of its new Xbox 360 game console in the first two days it was available in Japan, the world's second-biggest market for video games, according to market researcher Enterbrain Inc.

Microsoft, which started selling the Xbox 360 on Dec. 10, sold 62,135 of the 159,000 consoles it shipped, according to Tokyo-based Enterbrain. That compares with about 123,000 units sold in the first three days for the first Xbox, which debuted on Feb. 22, 2002, the report said.

The Redmond, Washington-based software maker's first Xbox was outsold by Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 about 36-to-one in Japan, and seven-to-one by Nintendo Co.'s GameCube. Yoshihiro Maruyama, the head of Japan's Xbox operations, in September said Microsoft ``can't call it a victory'' unless it wins on Sony and Nintendo's home turf.

``It sounds like a pretty weak start,'' said Eiji Maeda, a video game industry analyst at Daiwa Institute of Research in Tokyo. ``It will be important to watch how sales are in the last week before Christmas.''

A separate preliminary report from Media Create Co. said Microsoft sold 41,817 consoles in the period, or about 28 percent of what was available on store shelves.

Microsoft's first Xbox started sales almost two years behind Sony's PS2 and five months behind Nintendo's GameCube. Microsoft also failed to develop role-playing games that appealed to Japanese users.

`Behind the Eight Ball'

This time around, the Xbox 360 was introduced as much as six months ahead of Sony's PlayStation 3, which is expected in the second quarter of 2006, and Nintendo's Revolution, which will come out sometime next year.

Microsoft has also worked with some of Japan's top game developers such as Square Enix Co. to bring role-playing games, which allow users to take a character through an elaborate storyline adventure, to attract users.

The Xbox 360s sold in Japan came with a trial version of Square Enix's ``Final Fantasy XI.'' Previous versions of the Final Fantasy series were the best-selling games in Japan in 2003 and 2001, and No. 2 in 2000 and 1999, according to Tokyo-based researcher Enterbrain Inc." [more]

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