Microsoft announced in August 2013 that some countries which were part of the launch wave for the Xbox One for 22 November were going to have their launches delayed while Microsoft readied the console for their respective regions. While many fans expected a month or two delay, leaked information has surfaced that suggests their launch could be set as far back as August 2014.
The leaked information comes from Gamereactor, a European-based site that was also the first to report about the delays to the console in back in August. The site reports that Russia, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark, which were all affected by the initial delay, could be made to wait until at least August 2014.
If correct, this does not bode well for South Africa, as our humble corner of the gaming world hasn’t even been mentioned yet in Microsoft’s Xbox One launch plans, pushing our launch even further back.
“We’re told Xbox One won’t launch in the Nordics until the third quarter of 2014. Given a launch in July or the first half of August is unlikely, these countries are looking at a nine to ten month delay compared to the original November launch this year in other territories,” reports Gamereactor.
“We have no confirmation on whether the other four countries mentioned above are looking at a similar launch date to the Nordics, and it remains unclear what this could mean to other territories (Japan comes to mind). The delay may mean Microsoft is either struggling with supply, or localisation is proving a massive challenge,” writes Gamereactor.
Microsoft’s problems have been mainly with the console’s Kinect integration. Because most of the Xbox One’s UI can be navigated using voice commands alone, it’s a top priority for Microsoft to get Kinect to understand not only voice commands in English with accents, but also in languages other than English. This ties in with an earlier statement made to Official Xbox Magazine when the delay was first announced to the media.
“The Xbox One launch was delayed to 2014 in eight territories – Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland – but it wasn’t because of a ‘volume issue,'” Microsoft Senior Director of Product Management and Planning, Albert Penello told OXM in August 2013.
“People assume there’s a volume issue which in fact there isn’t. You’re actually seeing pre-orders pop back up now because we’re able allocate the countries’ volumes back in. It’s there, the problem is localisation. And once people see the system and how integral it is, it’s not just text integration,” he continued.
“But at the same time we said, this is a region-free console. In regions like Switzerland where people speak German and French, they can get a German or French console. It’ll work fine. They can log in to their marketplace, use their language, we don’t geo-fence Live or any of the content any more. We don’t have official language support – but the console still works,” said Penello.
This would also explain why countries such as India and Japan were initially rumoured to have a very late 2014 release as they would be in the last few waves for the console’s launch. Although it would make more sense for Microsoft to simply update localisations as time passes and offer everything in English in the meantime, as opposed to not deploying the Xbox One in some countries at all.
It appears that, for the time being, the only way to get your hands on an Xbox One is to import it yourself. Can these guys ever catch a break? Not only has Kinect pushed up the price for the console much higher than Sony’s offering, the voice commands are also ruining their plans for timeous launches of the console. It looks like for now, Sony has Europe all to itself.
Does that mean they’re localising Kinect in all eleven official languages in time for the South African launch?