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September 20, 2006

Microsoft announces new Japanese Xbox 360 features

Posted by David Hunter at 11:05 AM ET.

Xbox 360 sales are mostly on life support in Japan, so Microsoft took advantage of the Tokyo Game Show to try to give it a jolt which included:

Today at the Tokyo Game Show 2006, Microsoft Corp. delivered information on new and improved entertainment experiences for Japanese gamers, including details of the Xbox 360™ library of nearly 110 high-definition games available this holiday season in Japan, which will include the highly anticipated “Blue Dragon” from Microsoft Game Studios. Microsoft also paid tribute to NAMCO BANDAI Games and “Pac-Man,” announcing that the first “Pac-Man” World Championship will be held in early 2007 using Xbox 360 and Xbox Live® Arcade. Microsoft also revealed details of other entertainment offerings enabled through Xbox 360, with availability date and pricing provided for the Xbox 360 HD DVD player in Japan, as well as news of an update that will allow the Xbox 360 console to output full 1080p games and video.

Continuing its tremendous momentum, Xbox Live Arcade has also announced in Tokyo a host of exciting new games, including some that will be exclusive to the Japanese market. Gamers will have the opportunity to try a host of new games on the show floor, including the classic side-scroller “Contra” (Konami Corp.), the space-shooter “Gyruss” (Konami), the enemy-popping classic “Dig Dug” (NAMCO BANDAI Games), arcade favorite “Track & Field” (Konami), “New Rally-X” (NAMCO BANDAI Games) “Rush’n Attack” (Konami), a favorite 1980s side-scroller, and the inimitable “Ms. Pac-Man” (NAMCO BANDAI Games). In addition, the Japan-exclusive Xbox Live Arcade game “Yie Ar Kung Fu” (Konami), one of the very first fighting games, was announced for release in 2007.

Microsoft announced pricing and availability details for the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player in Japan. The accessory will launch on Nov. 17, 2006, priced at ¥19,800 (estimated retail price), and will come with an Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.

In addition, Microsoft announced that its fall software update, scheduled for release later this year, will allow all Xbox 360 consoles around the world to output game and movie content in 1080p resolution.

No prices or availability dates for the HD DVD player outside Japan were announced and if you aren’t familiar with 1080p, it’s a non-interlaced HDTV video mode with 1,080 lines of vertical resolution. The Xbox 360 already supports 720p and 1080i (interlaced). Tony Smith at the Register observes:

What it didn’t reveal was how it plans to equip the console with an HDMI port to allow pre-recorded HD DVDs that require HDCP anti-piracy support to be displayed at full resolution.

So how does the price of Microsoft’s add-on player stack up against Sony’s PS3 which comes standard with a Blu-ray drive?

“If you buy this along with Xbox 360, you can enjoy HD DVD content at a low price of about 60,000 yen,” Takashi Sensui, general manager the Xbox division of Microsoft’s Japanese unit, told a news conference.

Microsoft currently offers Xbox 360 with a 20-gigabyte (GB) hard disk drive and a wireless controller in Japan for 39,795 yen.

Sony, in comparison, expects a version of PS3 that comes with a 20-GB hard disk drive and a Blu-ray player to sell for 62,790 yen in Japan.

Looks like a wash to me, that is if you don’t worry about which movie studios support which high definition DVD format and are buying a game console to be your high definition DVD player in the first place.

Other Xbox 360 news:

Update 9/22: There are a number of press reports (e.g. here) that indicate the despite what the Microsoft press release said (and still says at this writing) that the real HD DVD launch date in Japan is Nov. 22.

Filed under Blu-ray, Coopetition, HD DVD, Hardware, Microsoft, Sony, Xbox

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2 Responses to “Microsoft announces new Japanese Xbox 360 features”

  1. Sony PS3 adds HDMI port, cuts Japan price -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Sony keeps fine tuning the PlayStation 3 right up to its November launch, perhaps with a eye on Microsoft’s Japan specific announcement on Wednesday and analyst fears that Nintendo could beat Sony in Japan with it’s low priced Wii console. Tony Smith at The Register: Sony has decided to equip the 20GB PlayStation 3 with an HDMI connector, possibly in response to Microsoft’s move to bring the 1080p HD resolution to the Xbox 360. The company also cut the machine’s Japanese retail price. [...]

  2. Microsoft announces Xbox 360 HD DVD and new games -- Microsoft News Tracker Says:

    [...] Microsoft had a herd of Xbox 360 announcements today at its X06 event in Barcelona. Topping the list was pricing and availability for the add-on HD DVD player (which had been previously announced in Japan): Arriving at retailers in North America, the U.K, France and Germany in mid-November 2006, the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player will retail for $199.99 in North America (estimated retail price)* and €199.99/£129.99 (estimated retail price)* in the U.K., France and Germany. The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player comes with the Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” on HD DVD (for a limited time) and the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote. … The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player offers up to six times higher resolution than DVD, and as part of the fall 2006 console update all Xbox 360 consoles will have the ability to output native resolution 1080p games and movies. Users can enjoy blockbuster HD DVD releases, with more than 150 titles available by the holidays from major movie studios including HBO, Paramount Pictures, StudioCanal, Universal Studios, New Line Entertainment and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. I guess that’s one pricing rumor that panned out and the net is that an Xbox 360 with HD DVD add-on is roughly equivalent in price to a Sony PS3 with built-in Blu-ray drive. [...]

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