Skip to main content

Long read: The beauty and drama of video games and their clouds

"It's a little bit hard to work out without knowing the altitude of that dragon..."

If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Microsoft gain foothold in Japan

Formally announces poorly concealed Namco agreement

Things have been unusually hectic in Redmond this past week. Windows XP, the next iteration of the company's famous operating system, has reached the RTM (Release To Manufacture, in other words Gold) stage and on Sunday the company's press offices announced that Japanese giant Namco was to develop for its Xbox gaming console. Although the scale is very different, the Namco announcement is perhaps an even more important victory for Microsoft than meeting the Windows XP RTM milestone. Like the overzealous reports of the Xbox's delay, the Namco story has been swirling around in the rumour mill for several months and was even described by an American network as 'the worst kept secret' of the Xbox campaign so far. Japan has always been a troublesome area for Xbox though. Microsoft's PR war machine has synthesized an incredible buzz in Northern America and to a lesser extent Europe, but the Japanese market is very different. PlayStation 2 rules, and the GameCube (which launches there in just over a fortnight) will very likely clean up, especially with new Mario and Zelda games. When Microsoft's console hits Japan it will need killer apps, but not on Western terms; it will need Japanese killer apps, which are an entirely different proposition altogether. However, Namco is a company that knows how to make Japanese killer apps. Gran Turismo 3 is popular the world over, but gamers have still found a place for Namco's Ridge Racer series in their hearts, despite its shortcomings. Microsoft's Namco announcement claims that the next version of Ridge Racer will appear on Xbox. Joining RR will be Soul Calibur 2, which was party to an enthusiastic reception at Nintendo's Spaceworld event where it appeared on GameCube. Namco will also develop two Xbox exclusives; Dead to Rights, a Fugitive style 'Whodunnit 'cause I sure didn't' adventure game that pits you against a world convinced of your guilt, and a second unnamed action-adventure title. Microsoft and Namco have paraded their mutual satisfaction at the Xbox development deal. "Having Namco games available on Xbox is a huge victory for gamers around the world," Robbie Bach, Chief Xbox Officer said in a prepared statement. More than that Robbie, it's a way for you to get a foothold in the Japanese market. The question is, will this be a token gesture, or will Microsoft now make serious inroads into the Japanese market? Nintendo will doubtless try and hold firm. Related Feature - Even more Xbox nonsense

Source - press release