The Microsoft bashers have been having another field day this week, following the confirmation yesterday that the Xbox wouldn't be launched in Japan until February 22nd. The fact that this has been rumoured for months and Microsoft had already pushed back the release schedule in Japan by a few weeks earlier in the summer didn't seem to stop certain gaming websites, mainstream media and financial groups jumping on the bandwagon to predict a fiasco of 3DO-like proportions. Indeed, most Japanese analysts were completely unsurprised by this supposedly shocking announcement, saying that they hadn't expected to see the Xbox reach their shores until March anyway.
Some people even seem to have missed the fact that Microsoft announced several months ago that the European launch of the Xbox wouldn't take place until Spring 2002. Fox News mistakenly reported that "the European sales date has also been set back until next year", a story which was immediately picked up by a number of leading American gaming news sites, while others reported that the Xbox was still due out worldwide in November, further adding to the confusion.
Ironically just days earlier Nintendo had admitted that the American launch of their GameCube console be delayed by two weeks. Coverage at the time was almost universally positive, pointing out that it would allow them to allocate more consoles to America when the launch day finally came around, and ignoring the fact that it gave the Xbox a head start. Of course, the same is true about the Xbox delay in Japan - this gives them more time to get Japanese-oriented games ready for release, and allows more units to be allocated to the all-important US launch. Remember, the Japanese games market is smaller than the European one, let alone America's. But because this is Microsoft and not Nintendo, everybody has conveniently ignored that.
The gaming media, biased? Surely not...