Microsoft Corp, the world's biggest software maker, said it will offer a two-month free trial for its Xbox Live online service in Japan and new game titles as it attempts to woo subscribers and expand a "small" customer base in the country.
"The success of Xbox Live in Japan is the key to our future going forward," Peter Moore, a vice president of Microsoft's home and entertainment division said at a press briefing in Tokyo.
Moore quit his job as head of Sega Corp's US business in January to help Microsoft bolster Xbox sales in Japan and Europe.
Microsoft last month cut the price of its Xbox video-game console to US$179 in Asia excluding Japan in a bid to gain on rival Sony Corp's PlayStation 2.
In Japan, where it launched an interactive game service in January, the US company has so far failed to win game players from its larger rival.
Microsoft provides no Xbox Live subscriber numbers for Japan.
Globally, there are 500,000 subscribers to the service.
The company also said yesterday it will offer monthly subscriptions in Japan to Xbox Live. Subscribers can choose to pay ?680 (US$6) a month when their yearly subscriptions expire or renew for 12 months for ?4,980, the company said in a press release. The service began in January with yearly subscriptions only.
"Nobody will be able to say `I can't afford Xbox Live,'" Moore said.
Sony's PlayStation 2 has outsold Microsoft's Xbox by almost six to one.