Xbox eyes amped up Japan sales

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TOKYO -- Japanese console gamers will get Microsoft's souped-up Xbox 360 Elite on Oct. 11 as the U.S.-based company tries to raise its ranking in Japan against Nintendo's hugely popular Wii and Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3.

The Xbox 360 has fared poorly in Japan since its launch in December 2005, partly because hardened gamers chose to wait for the much-anticipated rival consoles.

"We have timed the release of the enhanced system for October because a lot of games that take advantage of our Live Arcade service are being released this year, and by then there may be as many as 30 new titles on the market," said Jun Yoshihara, a spokesman for the company in Tokyo.

"Users require a great deal of storage capacity for those games, and we are finding that 20 gigabytes is just not enough for people who want to download live arcade games as well as movies, music and other content," he said

The Elite is armed with a 120-gigabyte hard drive -- six times the size of the current system and double the size of the PS3. Being able to store and screen high-definition images will give it an edge over other systems, Yoshihara said, adding that Microsoft also will announce on Wednesday a list of new titles for the Elite.

The system already is available in the U.S., where the Xbox has proven more popular than in Japan. It will retail for ¥47,800 ($388), cheaper than the ¥49,980 ($406) for the basic PS3 but double the price of the Wii.

In the first half of the year, Nintendo sold 1.78 million units of the Wii and Sony shifted slightly more than 500,000 PS3s. In comparison, a mere 122,000 Xbox 360s were sold.
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