October 9, 2008 / 7:58 AM / 11 years ago

Microsoft raises Xbox 360 forecast for Japan

CHIBA, Japan (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said on Thursday sales of its Xbox 360 video game console are surpassing its own projections in Japan, and the company is revising up its shipment forecast for the country.

Japan, the home market to two of its biggest rivals, Sony Corp (6758.T) and Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.OS, had until recently been a weak spot for Microsoft’s game business.

But Microsoft in September cut the price of its Xbox 360 in Japan, helping the game machine outsell Sony’s PlayStation 3 in the month. That was the first time the Xbox 360 has beaten the Sony console in monthly sales in Japan.

“We’ve done better than we forecast. We are finding that we have a shortage of hardware,” John Schappert, Microsoft’s corporate vice president overseeing its online game services and game software, told Reuters in an interview.

“We are raising our forecast” for Xbox 360 hardware shipments to Japan, he said, though he declined to give specific figures.

Besides the price cut, demand for the Xbox 360 got a boost in Japan from the recent launches of popular role-playing games for the Microsoft console, such as Square Enix Holdings’ (9684.T) “Infinite Undiscovery” and Namco Bandai Holdings’ (7832.T) “Tales of Vesperia.”

Action or fighting games tend to sell well in the United States, while in Japan role-playing games often dominate the bestseller lists.

“Relationships we’ve formed over the eight years of doing business with our Japanese partners really are paying dividends now as we see legendary franchises coming and making their new home on the Xbox 360,” Schappert said.

Namco Bandai said on Thursday it would launch the next version of its popular fighting game series “Tekken” for both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 next year.

Namco Bandai has launched the previous installments of “Tekken” for Sony machines as well as for mobile phones.

In another recent coup, Microsoft said in July Square Enix would launch the “Final Fantasy XIII” for its console, sharing the upcoming version of the blockbuster role-playing game with the PS3.

Prior to the announcement, Square Enix had only said it was developing the next installment of its hugely popular “Final Fantasy” series for the Sony console.

Editing by Sophie Hardach

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