Xbox 360 launch


Xbox 360 launch

The Xbox 360 launch marks the release of the first high-profile seventh generation video game console. It is Microsoft's second foray in console development succeeding their 2001 launch of the original Xbox.

Viral advertising and alternate reality games

The promotional campaign for the Xbox 360 began on March 30, 2005, with the opening of an alternate reality game called OurColony. Throughout March and April OurColony.net offered challenges to its community, rewarding solutions with cropped pictures of the console and game screenshots. On May 12, 2005, the ARG section of OurColony closed, visitors were instead greeted with a promotional video hosted by J. Allard. OurColony participants were allowed special access to insider info and previews before release to the general public.

[http://www.origenxbox360.com OrigenXbox360.com] was the next viral marketing campaign from Microsoft. Unveiled on September 27, 2005, the website, hosted by talking rabbits "Boss" and "Didier," offers visitors an opportunity to enter in various contests. The initial contest was a raffle that required participants to answer three trivia questions regarding the Xbox 360 for a chance to attend a promotional pre-launch event. New contests include a "Halo 2" tournament and a competition to design a "Gamertile" (an avatar icon). The design for the website employs flash animation of a Bonsai tree and bland elevator music to create a serene environment that is punctuated by visually intense psychedelic episodes involving the host rabbits.

October 2005 saw the launch of "Hex168", another viral marketing campaign commissioned by Microsoft and executed by the Marden-Kane advertising agency. On October 13, 2005, members of the TeamXbox forums were directed to the [http://hex168.com/ Hex168.com] website through mysterious messages posted by someone called "Lutz". [ [http://www.gamespot.com/news/6135857.html "Rumor Control: World of Warcraft 360 and Vice City Stories] , gamespot.com, 14 October 2005] This website hosted a number of images that appeared to perpetuate obscure conspiracy theories, but sometimes contained oblique references to Xbox 360. The campaign was later revealed to be a U.S. contest that offered participants a chance to win one of three hundred and sixty Xbox 360 console bundles six days before the official launch. [ [http://www.hex168.com/rules.aspx "Hex 168 Contest Rules"] , hex168.com, 18 October 2005] Winners from Hex168 were invited to attend the Xbox 360 launch party in Palmdale, CA, and given VIP access to games, food, and special areas (all free of charge).

Xbox 360 Lounge

To boost Xbox 360 awareness in Japan, an "Xbox 360 Lounge" was constructed in Aoyama, Tokyo, close to a popular upscale shopping area. [ [http://www.gamespot.com/news/6137065.html "Xbox 360 Lounge opens in Tokyo"] , "GameSpot", November 2, 2005] The lounge was composed of three main areas: a 256 m² event space equipped with five large display screens, an area containing Xbox 360 game kiosks, and a 70-seat café. It was open daily from November 1, 2005 to February 12, 2006.

Announcement

The official unveiling of the Xbox 360 occurred on May 12, 2005, on MTV in a program called "MTV Presents: The Next Generation Xbox Revealed." The special was hosted by actor Elijah Wood and featured a musical performance by the band The Killers. The Xbox 360 was also featured on the cover of "TIME" Magazine's May 23, 2005 issue with an article written by Lev Grossman. The cover shows Microsoft chairman Bill Gates holding up one of the units. In the article he says "It's perfect... The day Sony launches (PlayStation 3), and they walk right into "Halo 3"." [ [http://www.time.com/time/archive/preview/0,10987,1061433,00.html "Out Of The Xbox] , TIME, 23 May 2005] "" Microsoft executive Robbie Bach later clarified this statement, saying "Philosophically the point Bill was trying to make is that we're not just going to ship and not have great stuff coming up." [ [http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=61132 "Halo 3 ready 'when it's ready'"] , Eurogamer, 4 October 2005] Gates himself later clarified that "Halo 3 will ship when Bungie is ready." [ [http://gamesindustry.biz/content_page.php?aid=13960 "Halo 3 will ship when Bungie is ready, says Gates] , gamesindustry.biz, 10 January 2006] Microsoft chose a November 2005 release date not because they wanted to be first to market but because they thought Sony would ship their PlayStation 3 at that point. [web cite |url=http://venturebeat.com/2008/06/13/interview-with-microsofts-robbie-bach-part-2-on-xbox-360/ |title=Interview with Microsoft’s Robbie Bach, part 2, on Xbox 360 |publisher=VentureBeat |date=2008-06-13]

The system, along with some playable games, was shown off at E3 2005. The demos were running on "Xbox 360 Alpha Development Kits" which were Apple PowerMac G5s, chosen due to the PowerPC processor architecture that the machine shares with the Xbox 360. Microsoft claims that most of the games were running at 25-30% of full capacity because they were not running on actual systems.

Release dates and pricing

Titles

Eighteen launch titles were available for customers in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico on November 22, 2005. The European countries had sixteen titles available for the launch date of December 2, 2005. Japanese customers, however, only had six titles to choose from by the time the Xbox 360 was released on December 10, 2005. This discrepancy is partially accounted for by the time needed to localize the games.

Regional sales

North America

Prelaunch reports assumed that Microsoft would intentionally restrict supply [ [http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20051101-5510.html "More Xbox 360 launch and technical details"] , arstechnica.com, 1 November 2005] although there is nothing to support this and Microsoft has said they released all units into supply chains as quickly as possible. [ [http://www.majornelson.com/2005/11/30/replenishments-recall-rumors-and-replacements/ "Replenishments, Recall Rumors, and Replacements"] , majornelson.com, 30 November 2005] [ [http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/248871_msftsupply18.html "Questions surround Xbox 360 shortage"] , seattlepi.com, 18 November 2005] Evidence indicates that Microsoft launched with all consoles available at the time, and was operating at maximum production capability (that is, they did not withhold produced consoles). They did not, however, build up a sufficient supply of consoles to satisfy the entire demand at launch. This allowed them to launch several months earlier than would otherwise be possible, but also led to shortages.

Immediately after the launch, reports about the new machine's technical glitches started coming out. Some reported the Xbox 360 crashing with errors, some reported the hard drive does not respond in certain situations while others report error messages during various games or unusually fast overheating. [ [http://xbox360.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3145847 "Xbox 360 Crashes, Defects Reported"] , 1up.com, 23 November 2005] The manual contains warnings about not placing the Xbox 360 on soft surfaces or in enclosed spaces to avoid heating problems. Microsoft claims that these problems are to be expected on a large scale release for a console and the number of reports versus the number of consoles released was very minimal. Microsoft stated that they would look into the reports and offered assistance reachable by phone.

The high demand for the Xbox 360 led to some owners almost immediately re-selling their console for vastly increased prices. eBay in particular was a popular location for such offers with thousands of consoles going up for auction, some selling for many times the original retail price. It was reported [ [http://www.next-gen.biz/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1779&Itemid=2 "40,000 Xbox 360s Sold on eBay"] , Next Generation, 2 December 2005] that 40,000 units appeared on eBay during the initial month of release, which would mean that 10% of the total supply was resold.

According to the NDP Group, North American sales totaled 326,000 units in November. [ [http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=7509 "U.S. November Game Sales Decrease Confirmed"] , 14 December 2005] In Canada, all 32,100 units available for launch were sold. By the end of 2005, Microsoft stated it sold roughly 200,000 units. [http://www.johnporcaro.com/2006/01/xbox_news_from_.html "Xbox News from Today's Earnings Announcement"] , johnporcaro.com, 26 January 2006] [http://microsoft.shareholder.com/webcast/MediaPresentation.asp?MediaID=18746&MediaUserID=0 "Microsoft Shareholder Webcast"] ] As of January 1 2008, the Xbox 360 has sold 9.15 million units in the US. [cite web | url=http://kotaku.com/346301/whos-winning-the-console-war-in-the-us | title=Who's Winning The Console War In The US? | author=Michael McWhertor | publisher=Kotaku | accessdate=2008-01-19 | date=2008-01-18] [cite web |url=http://www.gamedaily.com/articles/news/npd-us-video-game-industry-totals-1794-billion-halo-3-tops-all/19119/?biz=1 |title=NPD: U.S. Video Game Industry Totals $17.94 Billion, Halo 3 Tops All |accessdate=2008-01-19 |author=James Brightman |date=2008-01-17 |publisher=GameDaily] [cite web | url=http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17006 | title=NPD: 2007 U.S. Game Industry Growth Up 43% To $17.9 Billion | author=Brandon Boyer | publisher=Gamasutra | accessdate=2008-01-19 | date=2008-01-18]

Analysts believe Microsoft did not meet the original worldwide target of 2.75-3 million units sold in the first 90 days after launch, [ [http://www.gamespot.com/news/6142087.html "Moore on 360 launch: "Nothing's perfect"] , gamespot.com, 9 January 2006] and Microsoft revised their initial 90 day estimate down to 2.5 million units, though their 6 month sales estimate remained unchanged at 4.5 to 5.5 million consoles.

The Xbox 360 was released in Mexico on February 2, 2006. Retailers such as Liverpool, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, Sam's Club, CompuDabo, Game Planet, gdGames and Cyberbox started to sell consoles, games, and accessories. Some department stores were selling the console at 6,000 Mexican pesos (~US $550).

Europe

Microsoft confirmed that 300,000 units were available for the European launch. [ [http://msnbc.msn.com/id/10231050/from/RL.1/ "300,000 Xbox 360s planned for Europe launch"] , MSNBC, 27 November 2005] As in North America, thousands of Xbox 360 appeared on auction websites like eBay, selling for more than twice their retail price. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4491804.stm "Xbox 360 sells out within hours"] , BBC, 2 December 2005] The shortages led to some consumers criticising retailers, and others attacking Microsoft itself for failing to fill demand. In turn, some retailers blamed Microsoft for failing to provide enough consoles in the Christmas period. Xbox 360 reached six million units sold in the region. [cite web|url=http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=20353|title=Xbox 360 Hits Six Million Sold In Europe|last=Alexander|first=Leigh |date=September 22, 2008|publisher=GamaSutra|language=English|accessdate=2008-09-23]

Japan

While other regions such as the United States or Europe enjoyed successful launches, sales in Japan have been very slow. In fact, only 103,990 units had been sold by the end of April 2, 2006. [ [http://www.gamesarefun.com/news.php?newsid=6190 "Japan: Weekly hardware sales for 3/27 - 4/02"] , 7 April 2006] [ [http://www.gamesarefun.com/news.php?newsid=5948 "Japan: Weekly hardware sales for 12/26 - 1/1"] , 6 January 2006]

Some believe this is mainly due to the other popular and prospective video game handheld consoles like the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and PlayStation Portable, all of which have sold far more than the Xbox 360. Others have attributed this slow start to titles such as "Dead or Alive 4" and "Enchant Arm" missing the launch date, while others point to the marketing strategy that focused on selling the Xbox 360 as a fashionable item when customers were looking for an affordable or a high performance gaming console. It should also be noted that "ToHeart2 XRATED", a highly anticipated hentai PC port of the PlayStation 2 game of the same name, was released one day prior to the Xbox 360's Japanese launch; [ [http://bluemist.animeblogger.net/archives/xbox-xrated/ XBOX XRATED] , 13 December 2005] this might also be a factor in the console's low launch sales.

For his part, Famitsu Xbox 360 editor-in-chief Munetatsu Matsui pointed to "Dead or Alive 4"'s absence as the main factor behind the slow start. He even added information that over 60% of his readers had planned to buy the much anticipated "Tecmo" fighting game. The 2-day 62,135 sales figure of the Xbox 360 is a little past half of the 123,334 units of the old Xbox that Microsoft sold in the first 3 days in Japan in February 2002.

Initial predictions were highly optimistic as the highest rating launch game reviewed by Famitsu, Namco's "Ridge Racer 6", scored 35 out of 40 stars. Namco expects to sell 500,000 copies of "Ridge Racer 6" in Japan. It should be noted that this number is roughly equal to the number of Xbox units sold in Japan by November 2005. Microsoft Japan executive Yoshihiro Maruyama stated that he expects sales of Xbox 360 in Japan to hit one million units sometime next year. Maruyama is widely credited for attracting support from Japanese game developers.

To entice people into buying the Xbox 360 some retailers are offering discounts on the system if they sign up for a 2 year broadband contract, similar to cell phone deals in the US.

On the day of the launch, Capcom unveiled their Xbox 360-exclusive sci-fi game "Lost Planet", which features South Korean actor Lee Byung Hun in the lead role.

Since the release of Blue Dragon, the console has gained popularity. On October 19, 2006 all 10,000 Blue Dragon preorders bundled with a limited edition Xbox 360 Core system were sold-out in Japan.

India

The Xbox 360 came to India with 100,000 pre bookings.

Due to the Xbox 360 being one of the first consoles to have been officially launched in the country, it initially found the going tough. However, its sales figures have reportedly been on the rise since the launch of the Playstation 3 in the country. Though company executives have been reluctant to divulge the numbers and sales figures, industry insiders estimate that the console manages to move about 3000 units per month, thus accounting for 12.5% of the monthly gaming hardware sales oin India.

Sales picked up briefly after the launch of Halo 3 and Grand Theft Auto IV, though the launch of the latter seems to have benefitted the Playstation 3 in India more than the Xbox 360.

It is currently estimated that the console has sold about 250,000 units in the country since its launch in September 2008.

Xbox LIVE was launched in late 2007, and as with the console, initially it was greeted with lukewarm response. However, now it has become one of the console's main selling points. [ [http://forums.xbox.com/804/ShowForum.aspx] ]

Latin America

The Xbox 360 was released in Mexico on February 2, 2006. Retailers such as Liverpool, Wal-Mart, Blockbuster, Sam's Club, CompuDabo, Game Planet, gdGames and Cyberbox started to sell consoles, games, and accessories. Some department stores are selling the console at 6,000 Mexican pesos (~US $550).

In Colombia, the Xbox 360 was officially released on the same date as Mexico. With a price tag of $1,200,000 Colombian pesos (~US $520), the premium package pre-order was sold out almost immediately. Retailers such as Almacenes Éxito, Panamericana, Blockbuster, Pepe Ganga, K-Tronix, Carrefour, La 14, Vivero, and Hiperbodega Alkosto have since started selling the console, games, and accessories.

On July 7, 2006 was officially released in Chile [http://www.xbox.cl] . With a price tag of $329.990 Chilean peso for the premium package and a price tag of $259.990 Chilean peso for the Core Package.

The console was also announced in Argentina in mid-2005, with "100% probability" [http://www.clarin.com/diario/2005/09/29/um/m-01013966.htm] that sales will begin in December 2006. But a year later, in May 2006, Microsoft pushed the launch date to December 2007 [http://www.tectimes.com/secciones/notas.asp?codnota=18820] . Still, it's very unlikely that Microsoft will actually sell their product in Argentina, considering the low sales of game consoles in the country: Sony introduced the PlayStation console in 2004 (almost 10 years after launch date in Japan), and a few months after that, the PlayStation 2, both costing twice as much as the "bootleg" imports, available in the country for years. Also, the price of the games is far from what the average gamer can afford, in the order of $100 to $180 USD, while PC game prices are adjusted, costing between $20 to $60 USD.

Brazil

After months of promotions and speculation, on December 1, 2006, Xbox 360 finally arrived in Brazil [http://www.xbox360.com.br/] . Only the Premium package (with the games Perfect Dark Zero, and Project Gotham Racing 3 included) was available, and retailed for R$ 2,999 (~US $1450). Some of the games, like Viva Piñata, were entirely rewritten in Brazilian portuguese since the launch of the console. Games are available at R$ 99~159 (R$ 159 for new games, and R$ 99 for the rest).

On August 31, 2007, Microsoft announced that the price of the Brazilian Xbox 360 Premium bundle price would be decreased to R$ 2,499 (~US $1250). The price table for games remained untouched since the launch.

Halo 3 was launched at the country in the same day as the rest of world (usually the games arrive a week or a month later), with the Legendary, Collector and Standard versions, as the U.S. market. The blockbuster Halo 3 and were also entirely rewritten in Brazilian portuguese.

The Xbox Live isn't available at the country yet, and Microsoft Brasil don't have previsions for launch.

Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan

The Xbox 360 was released in South Korea on 24 February 2006.

It was released in Taiwan on 2 March 2006. Promotions included one free limited edition "PGR3" faceplate bundled for the initial shipment, and a gamepad-game combo pack containing "Kameo" and a wireless gamepad.

The launch date for Hong Kong and Singapore was 16 March 2006, delayed from original 2 March 2006 launch date. In Hong Kong, there are promotions include: free "PGR3" faceplate with purchase of selected titles, "DOA4" collectibles with purchase of an extra game, and reduced price when purchased with cross-promotional items.

China

Microsoft is set to launch the Xbox 360 in China in the coming months. [ [http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=technologyNews&storyID=2007-01-15T115710Z_01_SHA205663_RTRUKOC_0_US-MICROSOFT-CHINA-XBOX.xml "Microsoft to launch Xbox 360 in China soon: sources"] , Reuters, January 15, 2007] Microsoft has taken a "careful approach" to the release in the region. [ [http://news.punchjump.com/article.php?id=2068 "Microsoft taking careful approach to Xbox 360 in China"] , Punch Jump, 24 February, 2006] This is due to concerns about piracy.

Australia and New Zealand

The Xbox 360 was released in Australia and New Zealand on March 23, 2006, three weeks after the initially projected release date. According to GfK, a German institute specializing in market research, the Xbox 360 launch was the most successful in Australia's history at that time, selling over 30,000 consoles in the first four days. This title now goes to the Wii, which sold about 2,000 more units. [ [http://au.gamespot.com/news/6163178.html Wii breaks Aussie sales records - News at GameSpot ] ] [ [http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=8723 GfK reports the Xbox 360 beats PSP Australia Launch Record] March 29, 2006]

Microsoft elected not to package an Xbox Live headset with the premium system configuration; a Media Remote is included instead. In addition to the two system bundles, Microsoft released a "VIP Pack" priced at AU$149.95, that contains Perfect Dark Zero, a Faceplate, Wireless Controller, promotional DVD, and membership to the [http://www.xbox360vip.com Xbox 360 VIP website] . Purchased separately, the price of the items would add up to AU$209.85.

The Xbox 360 became the fastest-selling console in Australia, with 30,421 units sold in its first four days. The previous record was held by Sony, where the PSP was king with 27,055 units sold in the first four days. But the record was soon broken by Nintendo which sold 32,901 Wiis in the first four days since its launch on December 7.

Before the release of the Xbox 360 in New Zealand, the Xbox 360 bus toured New Zealand making 13 stops in cities around the country.

Philippines

Microsoft Philippines announced on May 8, 2006, that it will officially launch the Xbox 360 in the country [http://news.inq7.net/breaking/index.php?index=7&story_id=75112] . Although no details about pricing, launch games and Xbox Live were mentioned, Microsoft Philippines general manager Antonio "TJ" Javier stressed that his company intends to market Xbox 360 products and services to Filipinos.

"This is the best-selling hardware from the world's biggest software company. How can anyone not want to bring this in?", Javier stated dispelling speculation that Microsoft Philippines intentionally did not want to conduct a domestic Xbox 360 launch.

It is most likely, and most logical, that the company will sell the Asian edition Xbox 360 in the country. Still many people could only wonder how Microsoft Philippines will market the console and games considering the fact that most game retailers and specialty stores around the country are already selling products with competitive prices.

An estimated 2,000 units of Xbox 360 were already sold in the Philippines since December 2005. The figure includes consoles imported from the United States, Japan and Singapore.

Local distributor Banbros is now distributing the Xbox 360 in the Philippines, with Microsoft's blessing. The lone package available includes the Xbox 360 Premium system with an additional wireless controller, Halo 2, and Dead or Alive 4 for 28,500 pesos ($568). This also includes a one year replacement warranty.

References


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