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Microsoft Japan: We can learn from Wii

Although Nintendo successfully attracted a broad demographic with its gaming console, there's no word yet that Microsoft will head in that direction.

CHIBA, Japan--Microsoft for years has been trying to bring more consumers into computer gaming, but Nintendo was the company that figured out how to do it, said Yasutoshi Magara, managing director of Microsoft Japan, in a briefing at Ceatec Japan 2007, the country's big technology trade show.

Yasutoshi Magara
Microsoft Japan Managing Director Yasutoshi Magara, center, at the Ceatec Japan 2007 trade show. Michael Kanellos/CNET

The Xbox 360, Magara said, was designed mostly with a relatively well-defined demographic in mind, namely 18- to 30-year-old males into networking games.

"They (the console developers at Microsoft) start there," he said.

By contrast, Nintendo, with the launch of its Wii motion-sensing console, aimed for the family and developed games that kids and parents might play together.

"It was a question of whether that would be accepted," he said. "It was very well accepted."

He declined to comment on whether Microsoft might move in the direction of doing similar sports games. By the way, Magara himself owns a Wii, he said.

Still, he said that there will be around 250 games for Xbox 360 for Japan by the end of the year. "They want a way to have their content reach the global market," Magara said. The synchronized global release of Halo 3 was a success, he added.

On other notes, Microsoft is trying to wheedle into the music market in Japan with a new PC application, formerly code-named Morowin, and a partnership with the Japanese online musch shop LabelGate, which has the rights to about 500,000 songs. The application basically lets you download and manage music on a Windows Media Center PC. The company has not yet released Zune, its oft-derided music player, in Japan.