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Microsoft bets on online gaming

Xbox Live to launch in Japan this autumn

We've yet to hear when Xbox Live will launch here in Europe, but today Japan discovered that it will be following America's lead this autumn, with the release of the Live starter pack for about $54.50. "We bet on online gaming from the beginning, and our guess has been correct", Microsoft Japan's Xbox supremo Hirohisa Ohura declared, perhaps somewhat prematurely given that the service has yet to go .. well, live. "Japan has seen the fastest growth in broadband internet connection services", he added, with Microsoft claiming that half of the Xbox owners in Japan have a broadband connection. Which would be great, except that the Xbox has thus far shifted less than 250,000 units in the land of the rising sun, meaning that if Microsoft's statistics are correct, only about 120,000 people are capable of using Xbox Live in Japan at the moment. By comparison, Final Fantasy XI for the PS2's online service has shifted about 90,000 copies so far, seen as a major flop by Square standards. Maybe Japan just isn't interested in online gaming? Merrill Lynch's Ken Uryu was somewhat less optimistic than Microsoft about Xbox Live's chances, telling Reuters that "I don't see [how] this would make a significant contribution to Microsoft" or Xbox sales. Other analysts are also apparently skeptical about whether enough gamers will pay to play online to make the service a success. As are we. Still, if online gaming is your cup of tea then Microsoft throwing huge sums of cash at the subject can't hurt, in the short term at least. Meanwhile news has emerged of one of the first Japanese developed Xbox Live titles, with Sega revealing that they have Amusement Visions working on an Xbox Live version of an arcade game we've never heard of. The sequel is going by the name of Spike Out X-treme [oh dear], and judging from the arcade original screenshots we've managed to track down, it's some kind of street brawling game where a bunch of guys wander around beating each other up. Oh the excitement. Related Feature - Xbox Live De-Modulated

Source - Reuters / GameSpot