Tuesday, August 22, 2006

XBox in SA, Q&A with Cindy White

Why are you launching in South Africa?

South Africa is a growing market for console and Windows gaming – gamers in South Africa have been craving Xbox 360, publishers are already marketing their games here, and we have great relationships with key retail partners here already. Expanding to South Africa allows us to build a successful business ecosystem for our partners here, and to bring more gamers amazing next-generation gaming and entertainment experiences. Xbox 360 has been a great success in the EMEA region and we fully expect that success to be replicated in South Africa.

When are you launching?
Xbox 360 will launch in South Africa on 29th September.

What’s the price?

Xbox 360 will carry an estimated retail price of 3,699 rand, and 2,699 rand for the Xbox 360 Core System when it launches in South Africa on 29th September. We’ll be announcing launch information for other countries soon.

Why do the prices vary so much when compared with other countries?

First of all, it’s important to note that we set an Estimated Retail Price for products – retail ultimately decides how much to sell consoles games and accessories for. We don’t disclose our process for determining the ERP, but I can say that it is based on close consultation with retail and publishers in each country, and is set to reflect market conditions as well as take into account factors such as taxes and local currency conversions.

What are your sales projections for South Africa?

We do not disclose sales forecasts for specific countries. What I can say is that we are on track to have sold 10 million Xbox 360s by the end of the calendar year – South Africa will be an important part of meeting this target and growing the Xbox 360 “footprint” this Holiday and beyond.

Will Xbox 360 be localised into local languages, including games and customer support?

Absolutely – we want gamers to have the best experiences with Xbox 360, so we’ve ensured that console aspects like the Dashboard, as well as games, will be in local languages. And if gamers have an issue with their Xbox 360, they will be able to contact a customer support team who can speak the local language.

What games will be available at launch?

Gamers in South Africa will enjoy a full line-up of fantastic games at launch. “Project Gotham Racing 3” (Bizarre Creations/Microsoft Game Studios), “Kameo” (Rare/MGS) and “Perfect Dark Zero” (Rare/MGS) will be available on launch day, with games like “Gears of War” (Epic Games/MGS), “Crackdown” (Real Time Worlds/MGS), “Viva Pinata” (Rare/MGS) and “Forza 2” (MGS) to follow in the following weeks.

What accessories will be available?

Gamers will be able to enjoy a suite of great accessories at launch such as the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Battery Pack, and Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.

How much will games and accessories cost?

Prices for games and accessories are set by retailers, not by Xbox. Look out for this information closer to the time of launch.

What about Xbox Live Vision, the Wireless Steering Wheel, etc?

Gamers will be able to enjoy a suite of great accessories at launch such as the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller, Battery Pack, and Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote. We’ll be making more announcements closer to the time.

Why are you launching in South Africa first?

We’re working with retail, publishers and other partners to determine the absolute best time to launch in each market – it’s very important to tailor the launch to the country and the unique market conditions, so that’s why the launch dates vary slightly.

Which retailers will you be working with?

We’re working with several partners in each country - from local specialist games retailers to multinational retailers - and will be announcing who they are later this year.

Will you be working with any new games publishers / local developers?

We’ll be making further announcements later this year.

This entry into new markets is a crucial part of your battle with Sony is it not?

Gamers in South Africa have been craving the next-generation gaming and entertainment experiences that only Xbox 360 can offer. We’re pleased to be able to bring them what they want. Xbox 360 has been a great success in the region and we fully expect gamers in these five new countries to continue that success.

Which countries are next?

We will be launching in Eastern Europe, Chile and India by the end of the year.

Why no mention of Xbox Live in your announcement? Will Live come later or will gamers get the online service at the same time?

Xbox Live will not be available at launch in South Africa or the Eastern European countries. We want to ensure gamers have the absolute best experience with Xbox Live – to that end we’re working with retail, ISPs, publishers and other partners to make it happen and we’ll make more announcements around Xbox Live in these new markets nearer the time.

What are the differences in gaming tastes in these markets – eg German gamers like ‘clever fun’ - so what do gamers in South Africa like? Will they be interested in the current games portfolio?

Our research tells us that gamers in South Africa have similar tastes to gamers throughout the rest of Europe. We’ll be making sure that we’ll be giving gamers in South Africa what they want from launch and making sure that we continue to listen to our research and endeavour to keep doing so in years to come.

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