Bill Gates launched Microsoft's Xbox gaming console in US with much fanfare while European gaming enthusiasts looked on in anticipation.
"The future of gaming starts today, and it starts with Xbox," said Bill Gates, the face of Microsoft.
Microsoft plans take the European gaming console market by storm when it releases it's much anticipated gaming console, the Xbox next year. The IT giant is set to release the device into 16 European countries on 14 May 2002.
It needs to sell 1.5 million consoles in three months to meet its sales' target. However, industry experts say that the software giant is late to market with their product and will have major difficulties competing with the likes of Sony's well established Play Station 2 brand or Nintendo's GameCube.
"14th March 2002 is a date that will be remembered by gamers as the day that their view of video gaming changed forever," said Hans Stettmeier, Director Home and Retail, Microsoft Germany.
"Xbox games out performs those offered by our competitors and offers one of the most impressive gaming experiences ever - to the extent that it blurrs the boundaries between fantasy and reality like never before. 14 May 2002 will be a great day to become a video gamer," he boasted.
It is clear, Xbox needs to win the lion's share of the European gaming console market to become an international success. "Europe is of prime importance for Xbox's success - it is a mission-critical, global market. Today, the level of interest from from developers, manufacturers, retailers and gamers is fantastic," commented Sandy Duncan, Vice President Xbox Europe.
It has been said many a time that Microsoft is a marketing company first and software company second. It's marketing plans for the launch of Xbox does the statement justice. Microsoft plans to reach its goal through a launch promotion with its distributors who will be all but giving it away for a recommended launch price of €69.
Thereafter, the console will be sold for a recommended price of €479. Like other console makers, Microsoft is subsidising the cost of the console and hoping to recover its expenses through sales of game software and the decreasing cost of components over time. A risky business.
In comparison to the Play Station and Nintendo consoles, Xbox is the only one with a built-in hard drive and a plug for high-speed Internet access. However a report entitled PlayDate 2001, released by US marketing-services company PlayDate, states that Play Station 2 will be the console of choice for consumers.