X marks the box
Microsoft plans to launch its Xbox gaming console in Europe on March 14, 2002, the software giant said last week. Microsoft's brave move into the gaming console market gets its grand entrance in the US on November 15 this year but no date has yet been set for the Australian launch. The Xbox will hit 16 European markets on March 14 with a suggested retail price of 479 euros ($A841), a Microsoft UK spokeswoman said. About 1.5 million Xboxes are due to be shipped to the European market by June 2002, she said. Microsoft, which is seeking to take a piece of the lucrative home video gaming market from Sony, Sega and Nintendo, has nominated a US launch price of $US299. There is some doubt about the firmness of Microsoft's European Xbox release date. Along with the delay in the US launch, the release of the Xbox on the Japanese market was also delayed. In August, Microsoft announced that it was pushing the Japanese launch date from late 2001 to February 22, 2002, so that it could devote its full production capacity to satisfying US demand for the console. Microsoft is planning to ship between 4 million to 6 million machines worldwide in its 2002 fiscal year.
Games software distributor Activision has just released a new version of the popular combat game X-Men: Mutant Academy for the PlayStation console complete with a host of new mutant characters and enhanced game play. Based on the world famous comic book of the same, X-Men: Mutant Academy 2 is rated M15+ and will retail for $49.95. Meanwhile, Activision is also convinced Microsoft's Xbox gaming console will deliver publishing and distribution opportunities. Last week Activision announced it had secured worldwide publishing rights (excluding Japan) for Wreckless, the first mission-based driving game developed for the platform. Wreckless was developed by Bunkasha Publishing and will be one of Microsoft's "premiere" launch titles for the first quarter of 2002, according to Activision.