'No 360 shortages this Xmas'

So says man who should know.

While it's looking increasingly likely that there won't be enough PS3s to go round when the console launches in November, Microsoft Europe boss Chris Lewis has pledged that there will be "no shortages anywhere in the region over Christmas" for Xbox 360.

The launch of the 360 last year was dogged by widespread unavailability of the system, due to the huge logistical challenges involved with managing a simultaneous global launch - leaving many gamers frustrated and many shopkeepers a bit fed up.

But after a shaky start, Lewis believes Microsoft now has the infrastructure in place to make good on its one-year head-start over bitter rival Sony.

Lewis's comments came in an interview with Eurogamer TV at last week's Leipzig Games Convention. When asked if he was confident of having enough consoles to meet demand over the peak period, Lewis replied: "Very confident. We were pretty tight after this last Christmas, [but] we tripled production; we put plenty of inventory in the air rather than using the water because it was important to get the stock to the right places at the right time.

"I'm very confident that we have the production capacity to suit our ambitions. And there will be no stock shortages anywhere in the region over this Christmas period, I can assure you of that."

Lewis' confident statements, made alongside a boast that Xbox 360 is the only option for the next 12 months thanks to Microsoft's exclusive deals on FIFA and PES, come at a time when Sony is under mounting pressure to spell out its launch strategy. PS3 made a surprising no-show at last week's German games show - despite having been fully playable at E3 in May.

Earlier this month, SCE UK told our sister site, GamesIndustry.biz, that its rollout strategy for PlayStation 3 would not be confirmed until mid-September..

Sony US boss Kaz Hirai recently admitted that Sony had not yet begun manufacturing PS3, and that it is a "logistical impossibility" that they'll able to meet demand this Christmas.

However, while Microsoft effectively disowned the original Xbox once 360 launched, Sony will betting on another strong performance from the good old PlayStation 2 in the coming months, with a price cut to 94.99 announced last week - plus new pink SKUs of PS2 and PSP designed to attract the ladies.

Asked whether he had any advice for Sony, as it makes its first attempt at a global launch, Lewis offered: "Well, I should say I wish them well. And I do; this is a tough business and I think they're taking on a tough challenge there in terms of the launch ambitions they're talking about, so we'll see how that manifests itself over time.

"But right now we're not deviating from the path we're on and we certainly won't be distracted."

The full, exclusive video interview with Xbox Europe boss Chris Lewis will be broadcast on Eurogamer TV in the coming days.

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