Microsoft Taking Xbox 360 Core to Japan

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console system hasn’t exactly been given a warm reception in Japan since their launch late last year. Although Microsoft doesn’t break down Xbox 360 sales to international market segments, sales figures for the system in Japan have been pegged at fewer than 160,000 units since the consoles entered the Japanese market in late 2005. To date, Microsoft has sold about about 5 million Xbox 360 consoles worldwide.

Now, Microsoft hopes to increase the appeal of its gaming system to Japanese consumers just before Sony launches its PlayStation 3 console this November by rolling out the Xbox 360 Core system in Japan at abou ¥29,800, or about $255, which is about $85 cheaper than the standard version.

Why now? Sony has just announced the rollout of PlayStation 3 consoles will be much smaller than originally forecast, with the consoles only hitting the Japanese and North American markets in limited quantities in November 2006, and only reaching Europe in March 2007. Microsoft hopes to tap into frustration of Japanese gamers who cannot get their hands on a PlayStation 3, tempting them with a next generation gaming console which is widely available and substantially cheaper than Sony’s offering.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Core system can play most Xbox 360 games, but doesn’t include a 20 GB hard drive and other accessories bundled with the standard Xbox 360 system. Users can add on hard drives or smaller capacity memory sticks to save games: Microsoft’s 20 GB hard drive will cost about ¥9,500 (about $80), while memory sticks will be about ¥3,200 (under $30).

For its part, Sony just announced price cuts to its existing PlayStation 2 console in Japan, trying to clear inventory and whet the appetites of remaining gamers prior to the PlayStation 3 launch.

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