Microsoft is claiming a victory for the Xbox in South Korea, as its initial shipment of Xbox Live starter kits sold out in less than ten minutes in the online gaming obsessed nation.
However, there's a bit of a catch - namely the fact that Microsoft only shipped between 500 and 1000 units of the starter kit for launch, in a territory which leads the world for penetration of online gaming and has an installed base of some 60,000 Xboxen.
The company reportedly plans to ship an additional 1000 units of the kit, which includes a 12 month subscription to Xbox Live, voice communicator and demos of Mech Assault and Moto GP, in the coming days.
South Korea is rapidly becoming a PR battleground for Microsoft and Sony, as both companies strive to build the popularity of console gaming in an area which has embraced PC online gaming like no other. For Microsoft, success in South Korea would be a morale boost for the company's efforts in Asia, and would probably be branded as proof that the failure of Xbox in Japan is simply due to Sony and Nintendo's home advantage.
That's not how things are shaping up, however. Sony's PS2, with a one year head start on the Xbox in the territory, has ten times its installed base - some 600,000 units - and in a recent poll, 97 per cent of respondents stated a preference for Sony's machine, citing customer service problems and lack of localised content as their key problems with the Xbox.
Microsoft will certainly be hoping that the launch of Xbox Live will give new momentum to the console in South Korea, which this month hosted the World Cyber Games - the multiplayer gaming equivalent of the Olympics, with international tournaments in games such as Counter-Strike, Unreal Tournament 2003, Starcraft and Age of Mythology.