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Children vote for Xbox on Santa website

MEDIA RELEASE: December 5, 2002

Santa is Xbox popular

Children vote for Xbox on Santa website

There's going to be a lot of Xboxes under the Christmas tree this year if gift requests made to Santa's internet site are anything to go by.

Twenty per cent of children visiting www.santa.net.nz have asked for a video games console. Nearly six out of 10 of those youngsters want an Xbox. Requests for the next most popular console are running at slightly more than two out of 10.

Girls make up nearly a third of those youngsters requesting a video games console from Santa.

Dolls, cars, bikes and balls remain the most popular choices on Santa's web site but gaming consoles are more popular than roller blades, pogo sticks and Lego.

The most important issue for youngsters visiting the site is whether or not Santa will be able to locate them if they go away before Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, there's heavy consumer demand for Xbox in-store in both Australia and New Zealand as the festive shopping season gathers pace.

Across the Tasman, the new generation gaming machine has quickly closed the sales gap on its nearest rival with Xbox's market share doubling to 46 per cent during the past eight weeks.

Retailers in New Zealand too report strong growth in Xbox sales. Over at Harvey Norman Luke Naish says there's a heavyweight slugfest going on at the moment.

"Frankly, Xbox has exceeded my expectations that's for sure. It has been our number one console for October and November. What has impressed me is how rapidly Xbox has managed to peg the gap with its nearest rival in such a short time."

Mr Naish says the console has gone mainstream this Christmas. "It's not just a case of a 14-year old son or brother playing console - it is everyone up to age 45 or 50! The buyer in 2002 is more informed and usually knows what he or she wants," he says.

"What's changed since Xbox came on the scene is the sheer quantity of people and the mass appeal of the console.

Over at Dick Smith Electronics, Tony Paulsen agrees the launch of the new console coupled with Xbox's Massive Entertainment bundle has helped to grow the gaming category substantially.

"When Xbox launched it was the core gamers who were first in but with Christmas well on its way there's a real mix of customers asking for it by name. Sure, the gamers too are taking advantage of the deals but also there's strong interest from parents and males in the 18 to 35 age group especially.

"Xbox has certainly been a standout already this summer."

The media are also big Xbox supporters. Radio station hosts report exceptional response rates to promotions featuring the new generation machine.

Jay-Jay Feeney of The Edge says the radio station has done a number of on-air promotions with Xbox through giveaways on The Morning Madhouse show.

"The feeling I get from caller feedback is that Xbox is the new 'IT' thing to have," says Jay-Jay Feeney of The Edge. "And when we gave away Harry Potter Xbox games, the kids who won them said they would use the game to convince mum or dad to buy them an Xbox for Christmas," she says.

Trent Helmbright of Auckland's Mai FM says demand for Xbox games has been strong on his number one rating night show.

"Most of the listeners who call about Xbox say they are going to buy one as soon as they can. The Massive Entertainment Pack also appears to be a strong incentive. From what I have heard, Xbox is definitely at the top of wish lists this year."

Xbox New Zealand marketing manager Wilf Robinson says it is common knowledge that traditionally more than 40 per cent of an entire year's console sales are made in the final two months.

"We are very pleased with the momentum we have at this time - especially when you take into account we have been on the market here only since October 3."

Kiwi gamers have been attracted not only by the world's most powerful games console, Robinson says. The Massive Entertainment bundle pack has played a big role in attracting buyers.

"Christmas shoppers have been telling us the bundle pack is a big incentive in their decisions to go with Xbox. And the fact the machine is DVD- and Internet-gaming ready are big sales points too.

"With three games, the DVD remote and the console the Massive Entertainment pack certainly represents incredible value at $599 - there's $459.80 worth of add-ons for only $100 more than the price of the console alone," Mr Robinson says.

Xbox launched with about 80 games on October 3 and Mr Robinson says there will be more than 150 available here by the time Christmas comes around.

"Our games now cover all genres, age groups and price ranges and when you compare the cross-platform titles it's clear that games look better on Xbox.

"If you don't believe games play better on Xbox then compare for yourself titles such as Turok Evolution(tm), Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4(tm) and Colin McRae Rally 3(tm). The Xbox difference is there for all gamers to see."

About Xbox

Xbox is Microsoft's future-generation video game system which delivers the most powerful game play experience ever. Xbox gives gamers and developers the technology to fulfil their creative visions as never before with games that blur the lines between fantasy and reality. The Xbox features the most powerful graphics processor of any game console, a built-in hard disk, built-in broadband capability, real-time Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound support throughout the entire game and DVD capability. For the latest New Zealand news and updates go to www.xbox.co.nz

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software - any time, any place and on any device. Xbox and Microsoft are trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

ends

Issued for Xbox by Pead PR

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