Xbox Creates Frenzy Ahead of Holidays

Microsoft is anticipating the biggest game launch ever and entrepreneurs on e-Bay have pre-sold the product at huge markups.
If time isn't hurtling fast enough toward the holidays, not to worry.

The release next week of the Xbox 360 is promising all the anticipation and competitive shopping any enthusiastic consumer could ask for -- before the turkey even hits the table. The next craze in gaming could be in lines at retail stores three days before Black Friday.

With less than a week to go, the frenzy is here.

Microsoft is anticipating the biggest game launch ever and entrepreneurs on e-Bay have pre-sold the product at huge markups. The company's marketing strategy, of releasing limited numbers of consoles, appears to be attracting plenty of interest.

Online retailers are already reporting that their limited supply of game bundles have sold out and media are predicting that the consoles themselves will be cleared off the shelves on the first day of the release.

eBay listed 1,139 Xbox360 items for sale on Tuesday. A seller from Ontario drew bids up to $680 (U.S.) for a console bundle on the Internet auction site. Others drew bids closer to $1,000. Microsoft has set the minimum pricing at $300.

The day before the launch, games and gamers are getting a little extra hype through a CSI episode with a narrative that involves overzealous gamers enacting violent game plots in real life.

On the day of the launch, a group of fans will converge in the Mojave Desert for a Microsoft organized event.

Microsoft's next generation of gaming and entertainment is aimed at building on the success of the Xbox, which was released four years ago and is sold in 26 countries. The new product is being released first to consumers in North America. Those in Europe and Japan will have to wait until December, and the system won't be available in Australia, Columbia, Hong Kong, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Tawian until 2006.

The company is hoping to sell 3 million consoles before the end of February.

The only people who may not be getting in on the excitement, according to analyst Joe Wilcox of Jupiter Research, whose Nov. 14 blog entry points out that game titles appear to be going after young men.

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
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