Copyright 2001

[ October 18th 2001 ]

Tonight, amid the breathtaking cliff tops of Theole-Sur-Mer overlooking the Cote d'Azur, in an inspirational and stylish mansion designed by Pierre Cardin and populated with nearly a thousand video game industry guests, the Xbox video game system made its European debut.

The event, called X01 and hosted by Xbox, provided more details on one of the most eagerly awaited video game launches ever. As green light rose into the sky and dry ice wafted over the crowd, European price, availability and planned shipment quantities were revealed, ending months of speculation by the Xbox faithful.

Xbox will be available at retail outlets in 16 major European markets beginning 14th March 2002 for an anticipated retail price of euro 479/ (pound) 299. The majority of Xbox titles are expected to launch at an anticipated retail price of euro 69/ (pound) 44.99. A total of 1.5 million Xbox consoles are planned for shipment in Europe for its first three months on sale (to the end of June 2002), which includes weekly replenishments from the Xbox manufacturing facility in Hungary.


It's all about the games, and the range revealed at X01 demonstrated the large amount of support that Xbox enjoys from 3rd party developers, as well as a stellar line-up of 1st party games. In total there were 40 playable games at X01, with many more being announced for the first time or shown on video.

Peter Molyneux of Lionhead Studios announced his second Xbox-exclusive game, BC, an exciting new title being developed by Lionhead satellite Intrepid Games. In addition Molyneux ran a demonstration of his previously under-wraps Xbox RPG, Project Ego, in which players control a character who ages from childhood to death, whose skin tans from the sunlight over time, and with graphics and gameplay that take advantage of many of the advanced capabilities of Xbox. Both titles will be published by Microsoft Games.

Microsoft announced more titles from its first-party game development division including Brute Force, a futuristic squad-based, tactical shooter played from a third person perspective and with stunning graphics, and Rallisport Challenge, a unique rally racing game with four different types of rally competition.

Electronic Arts: Announced and demonstrated an Xbox-exclusive version of F1 2002 which will include the new season's course and driver data.

Activision: Announced and had a playable version of Wreckless, an Xbox-exclusive mission-based driving game.

Tecmo: First European playable version of the highly anticipated and Xbox-exclusive fighting game Dead Or Alive 3.

Sega: Debut of playable demos in Europe of Xbox firsts Jet Set Radio Future, GunValkyrie and Sega GT 2002.

Eidos: Announced and demoed an Xbox version of Championship Manager, the highly successful football management game now on a console for the first time.

Infogrames: Playable Atari title Transworld Surfing - the first unveiling of an Xbox game under the Atari brand.

Ubi Soft: Announced Ghost Recon as an Xbox exclusive; first showing of Batman Vengeance and Rayman M on Xbox.

THQ: First European playable version of the Xbox-exclusive motorcycle racer Moto GP.


X01 is the result of months of planning by the European Xbox team at Microsoft, who wanted to create an event that was more than a press conference or a trade show. The team wanted an experience, and it had to reflect the excitement that Xbox has brought to Europe.

"Xbox is something special," said Sandy Duncan, Vice President, Xbox Europe, "and we needed to create an experience that would do it justice. We wanted our guests to go away not with just an update on games progress, but with a real feeling for what Xbox stands for in Europe and a glimpse of the future."

The location, Maison Bulles (bubble house), is owned by legendary French designer Pierre Cardin, who designed it almost 30 years ago. With breathtaking views across the Cote d'Azur from almost every part of the house, Maison Bulles is still at the cutting edge of style, blending 70s chic and space age elegance. X01 guests got to explore its bubble-shaped rooms, elliptical portholes, sculpted pools, underwater living room and 400-seater, open-air amphitheatre over the event's two days.

"Clearly we needed a special venue for such a special event," said Duncan. "Maison Bulles is in close parallel with Xbox - stylish, futuristic and unique, with global appeal."

Nearly one thousand journalists and representatives from the video game industry, from all over Europe as well as North America and Asia, packed the modern cliff-top amphitheatre of the house as the sun set. The event kicked off with Sandy Duncan announcing price and availability, and continued on to offer demonstrations and announcements of games launching with Xbox and beyond.

After the announcements, guests were allowed to explore the rest of the house, where each publisher-themed room featured demos of the games Europe will be playing on 14th March and beyond. Guests were free to wander around and take in the experience at their leisure.

The evening concluded with a live set by Carl Cox, internationally renowned DJ, who entertained the crowd until the small hours. X01 continues tomorrow with a full day of gameplay and press interviews for Xbox and 3rd party spokespeople.

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