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Microsoft Speaks out on Xbox Launch

Once upon a time Nintendo was launching the GameCube on November 5, three days before Microsoft was to launch the Xbox. Nintendo then delayed the GameCube in both Japan and the US to ensure more units would be available at launch. Now with the GameCube coming out on November 18, the Xbox had a ten day head start over the competition. However, production delays have caused Microsoft to delay the Xbox launch here in the US. The console is now poised to be sold at retail on November 15, 2001, three days before the GameCube releases.

In addition, Microsoft has promised to ship 1 to 1.5 million Xbox units by the end of the year! "Put a great big 'X' on Nov. 15," said Robbie Bach, chief Xbox officer at Microsoft. "Xbox is the one worth waiting for. It's the only video game system being manufactured in North America. This is significant because it assures retailers that we can keep filling the retail channel with new Xbox units week after week."

Microsoft isn't the only singing the praises of Microsoft. Wayne Yodzio, VP of Toys R Us had this to say about the Xbox: "Enthusiasm for Xbox is really taking off. "Microsoft is delivering what it takes to make this a great holiday season for us - namely a great lineup of Xbox games, a rapid replenishment plan that will keep our shelves filled with Xbox systems every week, and quantities for the holiday season that will translate the excitement about Xbox into strong sales."

Peter Moore, the president and COO of Sega of America, had this to say about the Xbox launch: "Having the right infrastructure in place will allow Microsoft to build gamer excitement with available product on the shelves, from launch, through the holidays and beyond. Microsoft has recognized that the road to success is more of a marathon than a sprint."

Microsoft confirmed that it will launch with 15 to 20 games and finish the holiday season with more than 30 game titles on shelf. Xbox has tremendous support from the games development community, including leading developers such as Sega, Electronic Arts, THQ, Tecmo, Infogrames, Activision, Konami, Eidos, Lucas Arts and Midway. Microsoft will also have leading titles, including "Halo", "Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee," "NFL Fever 2002" and several others, from its own game studios.

However, will these titles be enough to compete against the vast library of the Playstation 2 and the quality of Nintendo's first party GameCube titles? While it is hard to predict, there is definitely a lack of RPG's for the Xbox. This may not hurt the sales of the system very much in the US֠but in Japan, the system with be a HUGE disaster if they don't begin developing and enlisting third parties to develop RPG's.

In the US, Electronic Boutique CEO Jeffrey Griffith is not worried about the Xbox lineup. "The degree of success of a console is based on customer acceptance and a lineup of great games, not on a launch date or initial numbers," Griffiths said. "Thus far, customer enthusiasm has been exceptional, and we've been very impressed with the assortment of games. We're confident in the long-term success of the product and pleased to be working with Microsoft in this venture."

Brian Farrell, president and chief executive officer of THQ is also pleased with Microsoft's approach on the Xbox. He had this to say: "Xbox starting manufacturing is great news for gamers, and THQ will be ready with some of the most anticipated Xbox games for the holiday season, such as 'WWF: Raw Is War' and 'Dark Summit.' We like Microsoft's approach to video games and believe its focus on weekly store replenishment will be key to strong holiday sales for both Xbox and THQ's first-generation Xbox games."

It is fairly obvious to the industry that the Xbox looks to be a very promising system in the US. The initial game lineup looks far superior to the GameCube and should compete nicely with the Playstation 2 this holiday season. At this point all three companies, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, have a legitimate shot at dominating the US market. If Microsoft can continue to convince the industry to support the Xbox and release a few first party RPG's, they may just surprise us all and take a large chunk of sales. The battle begins on November 15, 2001...

By Kaleb Rutherford - 01/09/02

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