Xbox 360 Kinect Faces Uphill Battle In Japan

Microsoft trails both Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's Wii in Japan, but hopes its controller-free Kinect technology will boost sales after it is formally introduced at the Tokyo Game Show.
Microsoft Xbox Kinect Bundle
(click image for larger view)
Microsoft Xbox Kinect Bundle
Microsoft is hoping its new controller-free Kinect game technology, which will be formally introduced next week at the Tokyo Game Show, will entice Japanese users to embrace its Xbox 360 game console. The technology recognizes gestures and voices, and relies on a camera system that lets users control on-screen avatars by moving their bodies when playing action and sports games.

When users plug in the Kinect sensor to the dedicated port on the console and load the "Kinect Adventures" game that comes with the unit, they will be able to "float in outer space, experience the thrill of roaring rapid and tackle mountaintop obstacle courses," the company said, adding that more than 15 games will launch with Kinect. They include "Kinect Sports," which will let users play soccer, experience full-body stunts in "Kinect Joy Ride," adopt an animal in "Kinectimals" and do a workout with a virtual trainer in "Your Shape: Fitness Evolved."

"All you have to do is play [Kinect], or watch people play it," Takashi Sensui, head of Microsoft's home and entertainment division in Japan, told the Associated Press. "It's nothing you've seen, and it's a brand new experience that I think a lot of people will be attracted to."

Xbox faces an uphill battle in Japan, where it trails a distant third in sales behind Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3 console and Nintendo Co.'s Wii. So far this year it has sold about 150,000 Xbox 360 consoles, compared with Nintendo, which has sold about one million Wiis, and Sony, which has sold just under one million units in the same timeframe, according to Tokyo-based gaming market research company, Media Create Co. The Xbox 360 fared much better in the U.S., where it was the top-selling console system for the third consecutive month, according to the NPD Group August Video Game Sales charts. In August, consumers bought 356,700 Xbox 360s while 244,300 Wii consoles and 226,000 PlayStation 3s were sold. NPD said Sony also plans to release a new motion-sensing game controller before the end of the year.

Kinect for Xbox 360 with the Special edition Xbox 360 250GB with Kinect will be available beginning Nov. 4 in North America for $399.99. It will also be available as a standalone system for connection to existing consoles for $150. Kinect for Xbox 360 will launch in Europe on Nov. 10 and in Japan on Nov. 20.


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