Retail cool on 360 pre-orders, MS confident

by Johnny Minkley

With shortages of the current model still ongoing, UK Xbox boss Neil Thompson admits that demand could outstrip supply when Xbox 360 launches later this year – but insists this will be due to consumer clamour rather than poor supply.

Yet despite Microsoft’s confidence that good supplies will make it into the UK, retail remains wary, with some already turning backs on the setting-up of pre-order schemes to avoid disappointing the customer base.

Speaking exclusively to MCV, Thompson (above) said: “We feel as a company we’ve done the groundwork to get to a point where we can do the global release; we feel we’re going to deliver and have a great Xmas.

And while admitting a simultaneous launch in the US, Japan and Europe would prove challenging, he insisted that retail would be well supported.

“I think demand is going to be phenomenal so we see that as a really difficult thing,” he offered. “Will we execute well so retail will have good volume? Yes. But I don’t think we’re going to meet demand as people are going to come into this platform in a big way.”

But for those still furious with Microsoft and its distribution partner Gem over the current-gen fiasco, these assurance were not enough.

“We’re not going to run a 360 pre-order campaign,” Action Replay’s Steve O’Brien told MCV. “I’d never let a customer down in 17 years until last Christmas.”

“We will definitely not be having a pre-order campaign,” added Virtual Games’ Paul Kenwright. “We can’t promote a system if we don’t know what we’re getting. If Gem pushes us into buying stock from Toys R Us then so be it.”

One specialist chain boss, while affirming they would carry a pre-order scheme for 360, admitted: “After the current debacle everyone is very nervous of Microsoft and Gem’s ability to deliver.”

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