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Publishers pledge Japanese Xbox 360 support

After an openly admitted poor start to the launch of the Xbox 360 in Japan, Microsoft's fortunes could change in the region, thanks to software support from third party publishers.

Despite a slow start to sales for the Xbox 360 in Japan, Microsoft's fortunes could be looking up as a raft of third party publishers pledge their support for the next-generation console.

In a recent interview with Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, Microsoft of Japan executive Yoshihiro Maruyama stated that the December launch had been "A lot more difficult than we had imagined," citing a delay in the proposed launch titles as a major factor in the slow uptake of the new console.

However, Famitsu has also detailed a number of third-party titles scheduled for release over the coming year which should offer a much better incentive for Japanese gamers to purchase the first next-generation console on the market.

In addition to the delayed launch titles that have finally hit store shelves, such as Tecmo's Dead or Alive 4 and RPG eNCHANT aRM, the Japanese market will soon have Ninety-Nine Nights, Lost Odyssey and Square-Enix epic Final Fantasy XI.

Additionally, Namco is set to release an as yet undisclosed RPG title, along with Ridge Racer 6 - the latest instalment in its renowned racing franchise. Namco has also announced two further titles, Frame City and Love Football, and more are set to be unveiled in time for this year's E3 expo in May.

SEGA has hinted at a possible Xbox 360 conversion of two of its most popular arcade titles, House of the Dead 4 and Virtua Fighter 5, whilst Capcom is entering the market with Dead Rising and Lost Planet, both scheduled for a late 2006 release.

Two further titles, Blue Dragon and Operation Darkness, have also been confirmed for release in the region, and there are plenty more US and EU software titles from major publishers that are also due for a Japanese release.

The problem Microsoft has, as was the case with the original Xbox (which failed to make a significant impact in Japan), is that a distinct cultural difference means that many games that sell well in other territories may be poorly received in Japan. The company has pledged to work closer with Japanese developers and publishers in an effort to develop games more appropriate for the different tastes of the average Japanese gamer, though it would seem that third-party support will be the deciding factor in the Xbox 360's success or failure in the region.

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