XBOX Launches in Japan
02/22/02

Millions of Japanese people fled in terror as a giant, unstoppable monster invaded their cities today...and we're not talking about Godzilla. This new monster will stop at nothing short of world domination. Yes, this new monster is the XBox, and it was unleashed upon Japan today.

Even though no console with roots in North America has ever been a hit in Japan, Microsoft remains very optimistic about the launch. "We recognize the challenges we face in Japan. Sony and Nintendo may currently dominate the market," said Pat Ohura, managing director of Microsoft of Japan, "but the bottom line is that it's all about the games."

The XBox launched in Japan with twelve games including Dead or Alive 3, Genma Onimusha, Jet Set Radio Future, and various other titles that have been available on competing systems for months. "I think they're the biggest and best launch titles ever. Just look at how well they sold on PS2," Ohura said. Microsoft also has it's own games: Nezmix (a mouse-adventure game) and Project Gotham (a watered down version of Sony's Gran Turismo).

It's still unclear if Microsoft will be able to get support from some of the major third-party developers such as Square and Enix. "Right now we're concentrating on having a great launch," said Ohura. "We're providing a highly technological and innovative platform. Once we establish a big installed base developers will want to sign on, and if all else fails we'll just buy them. It's all part of the plan," he laughed.

We tried to discover what exactly "the plan" is. When we asked Ohura if the XBox is just Microsoft's way of getting a cheap computer/set-top-box into the homes of consumers in order to get more MSN and .Net Passport subscribers, which would put them one step closer to owning the internet, Ohura admitted, "XBox does many things." We can only imagine what that means.

Microsoft won't reveal how many units it plans to ship to Japan, but the company has gone on record saying that it hopes to ship 4.5 million to 6 million units worldwide by the end of its fiscal year in June.

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