Microsoft kicked-off its Tokyo Game Show presence with a press conference, encompassing worldwide launch dates, Japanese pricing, and details on upcoming games for all territories. In addition to the big announcement about the official launch date -- Tuesday, November 22 in North America, Friday, December 2 in Europe, and Saturday, December 10 in Japan -- IGN has learned some other interesting details on backward compatibility, the launch line-up, and HDD support -- and even saw a few demos.
Hoping to make a bigger splash in Japan with the Xbox 360 than they did with the original Xbox, Microsoft announced that over 100 Japanese-targeted games are in development. Those of you who like Japanese RPGs, fighting games and other Japanese-style titles will be happy to know that we'll likely see more Japanese-developed games than we did with the original Xbox as well. However, Maruyama did say there will be region enforcements for games on the X360, so importing games from region to region may be difficult.
One question that has been on most minds is what titles can we expect on launch day? Launch titles should include Ridge Racer 6, Frame City Killer, Enchant Arm, Dead or Alive 4, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, and Every Party, among others.
Maruyama continued by broadly stating that the 360 launch is based on a worldwide model. High-Def Entertainment has three factors including High-Def sound, a system that is always online, and customization. Currently there are over 100 titles in development. The majority of these games will be launched before 2006. 66 have already been announced and over 200 titles available worldwide.
The big news which came towards the end of the conference was that the Japanese launch date is Saturday December 10th. The price excluding tax will be 37,900 yen (about $350) and every console will come with hard drive, remote control, and wireless controller. Seven titles will be available for launch with six more titles before end of January. Several more titles may be also be ready, bringing the total to more than 20 games before January. With launch there will also be a Beta test for Final Fantasy XI.
During the Q&A session after the conference, Maruyama was asking about backwards compatibility. He said pretty much the same thing we had heard before: that Microsoft will try to support backwards compatibility for as many Xbox games as possible, but that that not all Xbox games will work on the Xbox 360. Microsoft will instead focus on the popular, successful games, and release compatibility upgrades over time, most likely in the form of an Xbox Live download. Maruyama also said that Microsoft will be discussing specifics of backwards compatibility in more detail "soon."
Another hot topic at the Q&A session was the lack of HD-DVD in the launch system. Maruyama said that the HD-DVD is not needed for high definition games, obviously. However, in the future it's possible that Microsoft will add an HD-DVD to the system.
Hard drive requirements were also addressed at the conference. As far as the removable hard drive goes, the majority of Xbox 360 games have to be playable without the HDD. However, there will be some exceptions, such as Final Fantasy XI, that will require the HDD. Here's a brief summary of the answers given in the Q&A session:
- The reason the hard disk will be included because in Japan because the country has an excellent infrastructure for broadband access. Some online gameplay (FFXI) will require a hard disk. There has not yet been a decision to release a core system in Japan at this time.
- They have not yet made an announcement on the initial shipment numbers.
- Microsoft has built their current strategy based on an environment that stresses Xbox Live. They think that by showing the console and the games consumers will be naturally attracted to the system. The current effort will be drawn out over the coming years. The previous effort with Xbox 1 was not successful because of time constraints and the lack of software. Xbox 360 has been in development for a couple of years with an impressive lineup of games.
- They believe that there are benefits to being first to launch in the game market but the most important aspect is the provided software. The console is less expensive in Japan, but it is an appropriate price for the current market and one must keep in mind that fluctuating markets change the comparative cost.
- Microsoft has no plans to launch a handheld. The approach to a high definition marketplace is centered around the home and a large screen, not a handheld device.
- The current titles and the most popular titles will be prioritized as being backwards compatible. Specific games are not yet being announced but the most popular games will be backwards compatible.
- Microsoft has discussed including HD DVD in the future but the current HD display for games does not require the use of HD DVD hardware.