Two months ago, Microsoft announced its most aggressive Xbox launch ever, the simultaneous release of the new Xbox One in 21 countries on four continents. Too good to be true? Yes, as it turns out.
Microsoft overestimated both its ability to produce enough machines, and the time needed to translate and add local content to the Xbox dashboard, television apps and voice controls. The company said yesterday in a blog post that it's delaying the rollout in eight European countries, including Russia, Belgium and Denmark. The change allows Microsoft to prioritize bigger gaming centers like the U.S., U.K., Australia, Brazil and Germany.
Even without those eight markets, the remaining 13 countries will still make the new console's November release the biggest Xbox launch. The original Xbox's November 2001 debut was a North America-only affair. The 360 was released in November 2005, initially in the U.S. and Canada, with Europe and Japan following the next month.
Microsoft is promising Xbox One consoles to the eight countries it's leaving out "as soon as possible in 2014." Customers who pre-ordered special first-day models of the Xbox One will get a free game as a consolation prize.
The snafu is the latest in a summer of reversals and public-relations cleanup attempts by Microsoft's Xbox unit. Since officially unveiling the console in May, the group has been trying to undo unpopular policies, like limits on used games and Internet connectivity requirements. Maybe now Microsoft can get back to telling customers what the Xbox One can do instead of what it won't.