Last week, Microsoft admitted that it wouldn't be able to meet its original goal of launching the Xbox One in 21 countries worldwide in 2013.
As a result, a number of European countries will see the console delayed until 2014. Australia, it should be very firmly noted, is definitely in the initial launch line-up.
Microsoft has noted that the delay is not about production issues, but actually around getting the voice control working across a number of languages.
Somewhat strangely, Microsoft's director of marketing, Albert Penello, took to a NeoGAF thread to slyly remind gamers, especially those in delayed countries, that Xbox One games are worldwide signed — they're not region locked and will work on any Xbox One console, no matter where the hardware was purchased.
Noting that there may still be issues around music and video services, Penello said:
You can use one of the 13 digital marketplaces corresponding to our launch markets, assuming you have a valid payment instrument for those countries. Lots of people in Europe specifically travel, move and visit family.
Later in the discussion thread, Penello added: "obviously, I support people waiting for the official supported launch in the affected markets for the best experience".
While this isn't news — back in June, Microsoft was hyping the region-free nature of the consoles — it does hold an interest for Australians in the wake of the recent controversy regarding the Refused Classification ratings initially given to and .
Firstly, it reiterates the potential of grey importing physical titles from overseas. Secondly, it seem to open up the possibility of Australia gamers having a US or European Xbox Live account. This could work in a similar way to the many Australian users who hold a US iTunes account, circumventing some of the delays in availability and taking advantage of lower costs.
We're certainly surprised that Microsoft might be open to such methods of circumvention, and we'd honestly be very surprised if doing so didn't violate some terms of service for the new consoles. Of course, until the Xbox One launches locally later this year, we won't know what's OK legally.