Having already launched the Xbox 360 twice in Japan, it would seem that Microsoft's efforts to woo gamers in the East are due to take a turn for the desperate and slightly non-sensical. Reuters Canada reports that the Redmond giant plans to release a "simpler version" of the console on November 2nd, one stripped of a hard drive and equipped with a lower price (a drop of 10,000 yen, or $86). Savvy gamers will immediately recognize this as the Xbox 360 Core system and promptly recoil in horror. We can only imagine the marketing meeting that spawned this strategy:
"Sir, I don't know if you've heard, but we aren't doing too well in Japan."
"It's a country. It's where Mario, the Italian plumber comes from."
"Of course. Why aren't we selling millions over there?"
"My analysis of the situation reveals one of two reasons, sir. Number one. We haven't been giving the Japanese gamers the genres or the popular franchises they want. We have no Final Fantasy, no Dragon Quest and no Metal Gear Solid."
"But seriously, I figure it's just because they hate freedom so much."
"Well then, we should stick to our guns and give them freedom. Lots of it. Let's send them choice and our cheaper Xbox 360."
"But sir, that didn't even sell well in the countries that do like the Xbox 360. The normal version did much better. Oh, I see."
"That's right. The good Xbox 360 sells well here and the crappy one sells poorly. The good Xbox 360 sells badly in Japan, so therefore ..."
"The crappy one should be a huge hit! Amazing!"
Cracking the Japanese market isn't an amazing or an impossible feat, but assaulting it with the squeaky toy hammer that is a $255 (29,800 yen), feature deprived console is unlikely to be terribly effective. Consider that since its original launch in Japan, the Xbox 360 has sold 158,654 units -- about as much as the DS Lite sells in a week.
[Thanks to everyone who sent this in.]
[Update: IGN notes that the system includes Ninety Nine Nights and Project Gotham Racing 3. Does that make up for the 16,275 yen (roughly $130) value of a seperate hard drive and headset? Thanks, A Master Ninja.]