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'No 360 shortages this Xmas' - Lewis

With PS3's November rollout set to be hampered by a hardware shortfall, Microsoft Europe boss Chris Lewis has pledged that there will be "no shortages anywhere in the region over Christmas" for Xbox 360.

With PlayStation 3's November global rollout set to be hampered by a severe hardware shortfall, Microsoft Europe boss Chris Lewis has turned up the heat in the next-generation stand-off, boldly pledging that there will be "no shortages anywhere in the region over Christmas" for Xbox 360.

Microsoft's own launch of 360 last year was dogged by widespread unavailability of the system as the US firm struggled to meet the logistical demands of an unprecedented near-simultaneous global launch - frustrating consumers and raising hackles in a retail community bruised by a hardware drought for the second consecutive year.

But after a shaky opening, Lewis believes Microsoft now has the infrastructure in place to make good on its one-year head-start over bitter rival Sony, whose PlayStation 3 console is set to hit Europe on November 17.

Lewis's comments came in an interview with GI.biz's sister site, Eurogamer TV, at last week's Leipzig Games Convention. When asked if he was confident of having enough hardware to meet demand over the peak period, Lewis replied: "Very confident. We were pretty tight after this last Christmas, [but] we tripled production; we put plenty of inventory in the air rather than using the water because it was important to get the stock to the right places at the right time.

"I'm very confident that we have the production capacity to suit our ambitions. And there will be no stock shortages anywhere in the region over this Christmas period, I can assure you of that."

Lewis' confident statements, made alongside a boast that Xbox 360 is the only option for the next 12 months following Microsoft's exclusive deals on FIFA and PES, come at a time when Sony is under mounting pressure from consumers, trade and press to spell out its launch strategy after PlayStation 3 made a surprising no-show at last week's German games show - despite having been fully playable at E3 in May.

Earlier this month, SCE UK told GI.biz that its rollout strategy for PlayStation 3 would not be confirmed until mid-September. GI.biz revealed last week that official UK distributor CentreSoft is holding retail 'training days' early next month to brief the community on the system's features ahead of launch.

Sony US boss Kaz Hirai recently admitted that Sony had not yet begun manufacturing PS3, and that it is a "logistical impossibility" the firm will be able to meet demand for the system his Christmas.

However, while Microsoft effectively disowned the original Xbox once 360 launched, Sony will be betting on another strong performance from its evergreen PlayStation 2 in the coming months, with a price cut to GBP 94.99 announced last week - plus new pink SKUs of PS2 and PSP designed to attract female gamers.

Asked whether he had any advice for Sony, as it makes its first attempt at a global launch, Lewis offered: "Well, I should say I wish them well. And I do; this is a tough business and I think they're taking on a tough challenge there in terms of the launch ambitions they're talking about, so we'll see how that manifests itself over time.

"But right now we're not deviating from the path we're on and we certainly won't be distracted."

The full, exclusive video interview with Xbox Europe boss Chris Lewis will be broadcast on Eurogamer TV in the coming days.

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Johnny Minkley

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Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.

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