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The Master Plan

In Japan, this is how it's gonna be

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Bill Gates warmly introduced Microsoft's Japanese battle strategy for the Xbox last night, during his keynote address at the Tokyo Game Show. The address was noted for its claims that over 70 Japanese game developers have "declared their support" for Xbox (including Sega, who were given their own special announcement). Gates also offered his vision of broadband gaming. Well, Microsoft's. Noticeably Uncle Bill wasn't in a position to say that Japanese game developers had XDKs yet - in the last week several unnamed game executives have voiced their concerns about Microsoft's Xbox strategy for Japan, or lack thereof, so if developers are on board, they will be pretty fresh additions. Or if we put our cynical hat on for a second, this undisclosed legion of developers could well include plenty of in-house MS firms and various departments and people at Konami. Oh and Sega. And is that developers or development teams? We had a look at Microsoft's Xbox website for details, but it hasn't changed. To be fair on Bill, he did have some very positive things to say about the Xbox's Japanese master plan. His audience at the TGS were already in a forgiving mood after the excellent news of the NTT deal yesterday, and he made a point of extolling the virtues of the Japanese market. After concluding his business on the Sega side of things, he also offered his vision of a broadband future. "Broadband online video gaming is on the verge of becoming as revolutionary as 3-D gaming was just a few years ago," he offered. "The broadband connection in every Xbox is the key that unlocks new worlds of play, where friends and opponents are everywhere." The two important points for Bill are "boundless gaming," and "simple, fast and predictable experiences". We're not quite sure how two of the PC market's staple assets for online gaming form any kind of revolution, but it's Bill's speech. That said, we had hoped for something more evolutionary than "online video gaming will be made easy on Xbox because of the broadband connection". Will it? Blimey, that's a revelation. The final item on Bill's agenda is Microsoft's newly formed Xbox Japan Division, based in Tokyo. Aimed at handling relationships with Japanese developers and providing support for those eager to integrate the ADSL connection, as well as managing Xbox operations, marketing, research and sales, the division also houses the Games Production Group, dedicated to developing and publishing exclusive Xbox games under the Microsoft label. Okay so that's Konami, Sega and Microsoft. Multiply that by the number of development teams, and you probably hit something near 70. To be honest, Bill's speech was somewhat unhelpful. It didn't actually offer anything new, and tried to dazzle us with inexplicable numbers rather than offer cold, hard facts. Capcom are still voicing their concerns over the Xbox and its strategy, Sony are busy chortling behind a TGS event programme, and Nintendo are busy swimming in GameBoy Advance revenues. You can watch Bill's keynotes here - he actually kicks off after about two minutes of Japanese announcements. Related Feature - Microsoft reveal broadband strategy for Japan

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