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LONDON, 20th January 2003 — Based on industry-standard, independent statistics from research firms Chart-Track (1) and GfK (2) Xbox, the future generation video game system from Microsoft, has established itself as the clear number two player in the region (3). This makes Xbox the fastest growing debut console ever, against some well-equipped, long-standing competition with a great heritage in this market.

Chart-Track and GfK numbers for the 2002 calendar year indicate that Xbox has well exceeded the million-console mark in theUK, France, and Germany alone. This, combined with strong sales in the rest of the region, places Xbox well ahead of Nintendo’sGameCube. Based on the figures from Chart-Track and GfK during the key retail month of December, Xbox outsold GameCube by a factor of 2:1. This phenomenal result clearly established Xbox as the number-two player in the region heading into 2003.

European gamers showed their support for Xbox in huge numbers with near sell-out sales of the console in the region. The Sega Christmas Pack from Xbox, a limited edition Xbox Christmas offer that included €120/£80 worth of triple-A games from Sega for free, also proved a winner with gamers across Europe. Many stores sold out of stock before Christmas.

“We are pleased that this Christmas was the Xbox-green we predicted,” said Neil Thompson, Director of Marketing, Xbox Europe. “Our increasing market share is great news for us. The steady increase in Xbox gamers over the year proves our strategy of offering consumers exactly what they wanted has paid off - a well-priced console, with more power than any other console on the market, a killer games portfolio and a built-in broadband adapter for instant online gaming with Xbox Live. The choice gamers had to make at Christmas was a tough one but the numbers show that Xbox was the first choice for a significant number of people. We are looking forward to seeing our number two position in the market going from strength to strength.”

An Xbox-Green Christmas
“Xbox launched in Europe less than a year ago and our first Christmas in the region has seen us clearly emerge as the number two player. Xbox-only games such as Splinter Cell clearly demonstrate the advanced hardware features on the Xbox and have sold incredibly well,” said Thompson. “Other games that have fired the imagination of gamers include cross-platform games such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, FIFA 2003, and Colin McRae Rally 3 – these titles have proved the Xbox Difference and enjoyed remarkable sales. Over 250 new titles will be available this year, so 2003 will bring even more must-have titles for Xbox.

“Consumers know that when they buy Xbox they are buying something that is offering amazing features and abilities that really sets Xbox apart from the competition,” said Thompson. “A built-in hard disc, together with unrivalled graphics and Dolby 5.1 surround sound, revolutionary gameplay, and top-quality DVD playback, lets gamers get even more from their Xbox”

The Xbox Difference is further amplified by the advent of Xbox Live, launching in eight countries across Europe on 14th March, Xbox owners can look forward to the future of gaming, both online and off. The Live Test Drive currently taking place in France, Germany and the UK has been a huge success, with literally thousands of gamers signed up to participate and enjoying a unique experience.

Yves Guillemot, President, UbiSoft Entertainment, added, “We believe that this Christmas has really established Xbox in the minds of European gamers as a powerful and strong-selling console, able to bring to market some of the best games around, such as Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell. As a developer we believe that gamers can only benefit from this kind of healthy competition and the sales over Christmas indicate that gamers believe that too.”

About Xbox Xbox (http://www.xbox.com/) is Microsoft’s future-generation video game system that delivers never before seen gameplay experiences. With more than three times the graphics performance of other game consoles, top-quality DVD playback, Dolby 5.1 surround sound to make games and movies come alive, and a hard disc that opens up new kinds of gameplay, Xbox is the video game system that delivers more of what gamers want. Xbox is now available in Europe for an estimated street price of €249.99/£159.99.

About Xbox Live
Xbox Live is the first comprehensive, online game arena fully dedicated to fast-action broadband gaming experiences. Xbox Live will allow gamers to play multiplayer Xbox games with other gamers everywhere via a broadband Internet connection. With a built-in hard drive and Ethernet port, the Xbox console was built from the ground up to be an online gaming system so there's no need to buy additional peripherals.

Xbox Live will enable all gamers to find and play with their friends easily; talk to other players during game play through the Xbox Communicator headset; and download current statistics, new levels and characters to their Xbox hard drive.

About Microsoft Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the world-wide 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.