Xbox 360 released in Australia
The Microsoft Xbox 360 was released in Australia and New Zealand at the stroke of midnight, with thousands staying out late to get their hands on the first of the next-generation consoles.
A downpour of rain at the official launch party in Sydney did little to hold back the enthusiastic crowd, as people began to queue hours before the release time. When it came to midnight a 150 meter long line had formed, news.com.au reported.
An estimated crowd over 1000 people turned up to the event and were greeted with free food, along with live entertainment and gaming booths.
Steve Wilson, managing director of EB games, said they were not expecting such a large turnout.
“We’ve done midnight launches before but this was the biggest ever. We were surprised at the turnout last night,” he said.
Similar scenes were witnessed at other major cities across Australia and New Zealand, with over 350 stores opening especially for the launch.
Such huge demand has raised the prospect of console shortages similar to those seen in other territories around the world.
While Microsoft is trying its best to restock retailers, there are still fears that Australia will experience its own shortage, even after the launch of the Xbox 360 was postponed by 11 days to ensure adequate supplies.
Wilson said consumers would have no problems if they had pre-ordered their console, but predicted others may have difficulty.
“You would probably get one today,” said Mr Wilson. “I don’t know if you would get one by Saturday.”
Microsoft aims to sell between $40-$50 million worth of Xbox 360 consoles and games on the first day of its release.
David McLean, Xbox director Australia, said it would be the biggest entertainment launch in Australian history.
“Xbox 360 will make more money on day one than iPod, Harry Potter books, the Lord of the Rings movies, or ticket sales for U2.
Put simply this is set to be the biggest Australian entertainment launch of all time,” he said.
The Xbox 360 has a recommended retail price of $649.95 for the premium package and $499.95 for the Xbox 360 Core system.
A record 21 games have been made available for the launch and are priced at RRP $99.95. 18 arcade style games are also available for download via Xbox Live.
“This is without a doubt the hottest entertainment product of 2006,” McLean said.
“There’s nothing on the horizon which comes even close to the high quality, high definition realism on offer with the Xbox 360. It’s set to be a very exciting year for the Australian living room.”
McLean believes Australians will push the $1 billion mark in computer game sales for the first ever time this year.