Microsoft Corporation, which will be launching its second generation gaming console, Xbox 360 in Indian markets shortly before Diwali this year, has drawn up an elaborate marketing strategy and distribution network to facilitate sales in the estimated $50 million market.
India, with an estimated 1.6 million avid gamers who spend more than 20 hours a week on gaming and an average of Rs 926 on buying legal gaming software, is a fertile sowing ground for gaming companies.
Microsoft, with its latest offering, is going full throttle with conventional promotional activities in the seven metro cities in India, tie ups with Adidas, MTV and Samsung for joint promotions, and putting in place a network of 1,200 retailers under the distributorship of Redington India Limited, said Mohit Anand, country manager, entertainment and devices division of Microsoft.
He, however, did not disclose the company's budget for such large-scale promotions in India, nor the expected sales from this region.
According to Anand, the products were competitively priced to discourage grey market activities. It was expected to be $100 cheaper than Sony's Playstation 3 due for launch soon.
The software for the Xbox is so designed that it will not support pirated discs.
India is touted to be the biggest market in terms of prospective sales among the countries where the Xbox will be launched this holiday season.
These include Brazil, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Chile and South Africa. The Xbox 360 has sold 5.5 million units till June 30 this year, eight months from the time of its launch in eight countries and most of Europe and North America.
Microsoft expected 10 million consoles to be sold by November.
For the product in India, the company will have 25 gaming titles available at the time of launch and have seven to 10 titles added to the list every month.
By June of 2007, it expected to have a library of 100 titles for customers to choose from.
The wired version was priced lower and had one game title to lure amateur and new gamers into the habit of gaming.
The target customers fall in the age-group of between 14 to 35 years, with an added emphasis on those between 19 to 26 years. Young families, executives and children will be targeted with this product.
The wireless Xbox, though does not have any freebies in the package. "We also have three million paid subscribers for the Xbox and expect this number to grow to six million by June next year," Anand said.
The company is also in talks with gaming companies in India to develop games with a local flavour.
It is also in the process of finalising deals with financial institutions to provide financial assistance to its customers for the Xbox.
With the Xbox 360 and Xbox 360 System, priced at Rs 19,990 and Rs 23,990 respectively in India, the company already has pre-orders of 10,000 units even before a formal launch or promotions, claimed Anand.
"We will be promoting the Xbox 360 as the latest and greatest entertainment and gaming platform in the world and will also be trying to dispel the image of gaming as an unsocial and secluded activity. We plan to promote gaming as a community activity that brings people together," Anand said.
The products were manufactured by three outsourced agencies in China and the company did not have any immediate plans of setting up a manufacturing unit in India or outsourcing production to any Indian company, Anand informed.