Tuesday 19th July 2005 XBOX 360 LAUNCH DATE DELAY?
Will launch be pushed back to early 2006 in Japan, colliding with the arrival of PS3? Update - Microsoft: 'there's no delay'
11:45 The expected worldwide launch for Xbox 360 looms ever closer but new reports suggest Microsoft may be about to drop a bombshell and announce the Japan launch for the next-gen console is being pushed back.
GameInformer.com claims to have received information from an "inside source" stating that at the 'E3-scale' Xbox 360 event in Japan on July 25 the Washington, Redmond giant is to reveal that the console will miss this year in Japan with the launch slipping to early 2006, March next year looking most likely.
++ UPDATE ++ Since publishing this news piece we've been contacted by Microsoft. A spokesperson responding to our query on this delay report said that at E3 the company announced plans for a worldwide launch for Xbox 360 during the Christmas 2005 period and that Microsoft "remains on track for each territory" with Xbox 360's launch. However we'd hardly expect them to be springing any relaunch updates on us right now.
++ UPDATE ENDS ++
It's speculated that a delay in Japan could be the result of lack of console units to adequately support a worldwide launch or lack of strong launch titles - or both.
Microsoft's UK arm remained unavailable for comment on this report at the time of writing, but if it offered anything other than 'we do not comment on internet rumour and speculation' we'd be peeking out the window on the look out for pigs flying past.
If Xbox 360 is delayed until March 2006 in Japan - and that's a very big 'if' surrounded by blinking neon lights at this stage - Microsoft's next-gen console is going to release on those shores around the same time as the PS3, according to the current projection of spring 2006 (though we are yet to be convinced about that projected PS3 release date - at least in Europe - too).
Microsoft may have snapped up some high profile Japanese talent to develop for Xbox 360, but considering the original Xbox's lacklustre performance in the Japanese market a launch coinciding with PS3 could prove - shall we politely say challenging - for the company. The launch delay reports will - hopefully - be revealed as truth or wide of the mark on July 25.