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Xbox Delayed in Japan Until Feb. 22

25 Aug, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

A few days after Nintendo delayed the U.S. launch of GameCube by two weeks from Nov. 5 to Nov. 18, Microsoft announced that the Japanese launch of its next-generation Xbox video game system will be delayed until Feb. 22.

The delay reportedly stems from a lack of games for the Japanese market, which tends to be more focused on simulation and role-playing games. This move will also ensure ample supply of consoles for the North American launch.

While this announcement will have no impact on the Nov. 8 North American launch of Xbox, which will retail for $299, the Japanese market, which accounts for about one-third of the $20 billion worldwide video game market, is crucial for the success of any video game system.

In North America, Microsoft will ship between 600,000 and 800,000 Xbox units at launch and is expected to ship 1.1 million units by the end of the year. The company expects to ship 4.5 million to 6 million Xbox hardware units worldwide in the first eight months.

Microsoft previously delayed the European launch of Xbox from this fall until Q1 2002, opting to release the system simultaneously in North America and Japan.

Microsoft will bring $500 million in marketing over the first 18 months to launch its Xbox system, but it will need to deliver quality console games to win over the hardcore gamers that purchase upwards of 30 games a year at $50 a pop.

Microsoft also announced that Japanese developer Namco will bring four of its franchises to Xbox, including Soul Calibur 2, Ridge Racer and Dead to Rights. While these games will appease North American gamers, it will also help Microsoft's attempt to woo Japanese gamers to its system. Microsoft continues to have talks with Japanese role-playing game giant SquareSoft, which would help Xbox in Japan.

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