Determined to defend its position as the top-selling, next-generation gaming console, the Microsoft Xbox team is already accumulating its arsenal for the end-of-year retail battle.
Xbox product marketing manager Tom Hunt says December will be the high point in what has already been a strong year for the console. “A highlight of this year was passing the 65,000 consoles sold milestone. Our next goal is to reach 100,000 in the coming year.”
December sales will play a vital part in reaching this target, says Hunt. “This December will be very important for us. We expect to be over half-way by January.”
According to Hunt, the Xbox 360 already makes up half of all next-generation consoles sold, which also include the Nintendo Wii and Sony Playstation 3.
However, he adds sales will be further boosted this Christmas by lower pricing and a range of new big-gaming titles being released.
Hunt predicts that with a new price tag of $399, the entry-level Xbox Arcade will be a major seller. “This puts it in a price range that is quite accessible for the New Zealand market. It starts to become a ‘why not?’ purchase.”
Hunt also expects this price point to result in more sales through different retail outlets. “That price will work in a place like The Warehouse.”
Unlike the more expensive Pro and Elite Xbox models, the Arcade does not include an internal hard drive, but rather 512MB of external memory.
However, the console can be upgraded with the addition of memory and other components, says Hunt, adding Microsoft is looking at creating upgrade bundles for Arcade owners who want to expand their gaming experience.
A number of exclusive “big hit” gaming titles, such as Gears of War 2 and Fable 2 will also help boost sales, says Hunt. “These two titles will be massive.”
In addition, titles such as Lips, the first karaoke game for Xbox, You’re in the Movies, Rock Band 2 and new Guitar Hero releases will attract a wider range of people to the platform, says Hunt. “We think that this Christmas there will be a lot of buzz-worthy titles for consumers.”
He is not concerned that the Xbox is losing sales to people who buy a PS3 because it incorporates a Bluray drive. “Games sell games consoles. That’s why we focus on delivering the best games and the most games. We acknowledge that some people buy the Playstation 3 to access Bluray, but we want to focus on the games side of it.”