Microsoft will not be running its traditional European Xbox press event this year, a spokesperson for the company confirmed to gamesindustry.biz this afternoon. Instead, offices in individual territories will run their own smaller events to showcase games to each country's press and trade.
"We officially won't be doing a European X04 this year," a spokesperson for Microsoft UK told gi.biz. "Instead we'll be focusing on individual countries. So in terms of UK we'll have a showcase event with our key games - Halo 2, Fable, Jade Empire, Forza [Motorsport] - but we won't have one big European event."
Previous X0- events have seen Microsoft transport journalists, publishers, developers and trade figures to glitzy locations in Europe, where the platform holder has unveiled new software, studio acquisitions and made other key announcements, as well as inviting attendees to try out new software.
Microsoft has yet to finalise details of the UK event, indicating that it wasn't too far along in the planning stages yet. However, we were told the platform holder would probably hire a venue rather than invite trade and press to its headquarters.
Microsoft has not finalised the UK date, either, but anticipated something "later than X0 events previously were," which presumably means October or even later in the year. Microsoft also admitted today that events in individual territories would not necessarily take place on the same date.
The latter point in particular almost certainly rules out the new format as a launch platform for Xbox 2, currently codenamed Xenon, adding weight to suggestions that the next-generation platform will be unveiled at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas on January 6, 2005, when Bill Gates delivers the pre-show keynote speech.
Over the weekend, senior industry sources, speaking to this website, indicated that it was extremely likely that Microsoft would use CES 2005 to unveil Xbox 2 - having used the same show four years ago to introduce the world to the original console.