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Microsoft Pushes Kinect at Akihabara Launch Event

SKE48 members joined by professional wrestler in shout of "Kinect Love" to kick off sales.

Microsoft Home & Entertainment chief Takashi Sensui briefly assumes clerk duties at the Akihabara Yodobashi Camera, a popular location for official product launches.

Microsoft launched Kinect here early Saturday morning, drawing over 150 people to the Akihabara official launch event where pop stars Jurina and Rena Matsui and wrestler Keiji Mutou kicked off sales with a shout of "Kinect Love!"

Taking the stage outside of the giant Yodobashi Camera Multimedia Akiba shop at 8:20, Microsoft Home & Entertainment chief Takashi Sensui made note of the device's initial success outside of Japan, with over one million sales in Europe and North America. Said Sensui, "In the future, there should be a variety of applications for it, but first we'd like you to enjoy the games."

At launch, those games were Sonic Free Riders, Kinect Sports, Dance Evolution, Crossboard 7, and New Brain Training. The device itself was bundled with Kinect Adventure. Newcomer owners were able to pick up 4GB and 250GB Kinect hardware bundles. You can read about the full product lineup here.

Following Sensui's introduction, SKE48 members Jurina Matsui and Rena Matsui took the stage. These two have formed special unit "Team Kinect" to promote Kinect in commercials. You can see the full lineup of spots, along with details on their other promotional work, at Microsoft's Kinect promotional site.

Some of the earlier teaser spots showed the two doing a variety of poses, most notably pro wrestler Keiji Mutou's "Love Pro Wrestling" pose. Claiming to be a bit embarassed, Rena did the pose before the crowd, leading to Mutou's appearance.

Mutou claimed to be an inexperienced gamer, something he'd later demonstrate by losing twice in live play sessions with the Matsui girls. Regarding Kinect, he said "The controls are very simple. I got to play the boxing game, and it didn't hurt. If they make a pro wrestling game, it would be nice to use it as a pre-match simulation."

Joined by Yodobashi Camera's TV Game Manager Kosuke Suzuki, the group signaled the start of sales with a ribbon cutting ceremony. While actual sales took place inside on the store's first floor, the first person in line, who'd been waiting for two days since the 18th, was invited to the stage to pose with Sensui and the celebrities and receive some signed bonus goods, including a t-shirt showing the Team Kinect members and their avatars.

Everyone does the Love Kinect pose to bring the stage event to a close.

Official launch events, regardless of the product, tend to draw large crowds and press attention. The real question for Kinect in the Japanese market is if it can lift the Xbox 360 from the bottom of the weekly sales charts. We should get some indication of the platform's initial success later this week.

But initial performance may not necessarily be an indicator of future success. The system has a small lineup of titles due out over the coming weeks, including Kinect Animals, Your Shape Fitness and DecaSporta Freedom in December. The system's highest profile homegrown titles, including Codename D, Project Draco and Haunt, are all due out some time in 2011.

Sensui hands off Kinect to early buyers.
Yodobashi brought the crowds into the shop for sales.
Team Kinect beat Mutou at Kinect boxing.
During a Q&A session following the event, Rena said that she'd like Kinect to get a game featuring dance choreography from SKE48.
A few surprise guests also appeared at the event.

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