IT could be almost two months after tonight’s launch of Xbox One before the supply meets demand for one of this year’s hottest consoles, according to the European head of Microsoft’s games division.
“We are doing everything we can to meet the incredible demand,” said Chris Lewis in an interview with the Irish Independent today. “We’ve been very deliberate in the way that we work with our partners to make sure there is stock available for the first day.
But he admitted some potential buyers will be left empty-handed until well after Christmas Day.
“It’s possible we’ll sell out (on day one) in places and that’s a nice problem to have as long as you can then replenish that stock very quickly.
“There is a lot of pent-up demand which we’re very excited about. I think time will tell whether it continues to surpass our expectations
“But typically the middle of January is when you start to see the stock appear on a more free and available basis.”
The successor to the Xbox 360, which has sold 80 million units since its launch in 2005, goes on sale around the world at midnight tonight with several special events planned in London, New York and Los Angeles.
Irish gamers have already been warned about the Xbox One scarcity, with retailer Gamestop saying it may not be able to supply all its pre-orders before Christmas.
“In terms of volumes, the pre-order velocity and the line-up, it’s the biggest launch we’ve ever undertaken,” said Lewis.
“Overall we are the only new-generation system designed to make games and entertainment better, not only for today but also for years to come.
“There are three elements to why Xbox One is fantastic value. It is home to the best games.
“Xbox games just play better – Xbox Live is the oxygen of what we do. It delivers the best multiplayer experience.
"Finally, we are the only all-in-one entertainment system built with the future in mind.”
However, one of the key features of Xbox One – voice control – will not available be Ireland for several months for technical reasons.
Lewis can’t even promise anything more concrete than next year.
“We are going to try and bring all of the richness (of voice control) to every market as soon as we possibly can. It is certainly in the next calendar year. I can’t be specific on the month. The team in Ireland is pushing very hard. The Irish consumer is very important to us.”
But he vowed that Microsoft would at last defeat Sony’s PlayStation in the battle of the consoles, saying he expects this generation of machines to last 10 years, far more than the current ones.
“We have low tolerance for anything other than winning overall. We are committed to the longer term. We think this generation will be least a decade in the making.”