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Microsoft is due to race the other two big games console manufacturers – Sony and Nintendo – to market when it launches its Xbox 360 tomorrow, US time.

The main enemy is Sony, whose PlayStation 2 owns the major whack of the $10 billion, second-generation US video game market. With 30 million PS2s sold, the Japanese manufacturer has outgunned the predecessor Xbox more than 2 to 1. Most gamers are likely to settle for just one of the expensive new consoles, analysts say. They expect buyers to go for the Xbox 360 US$400 package that plays second-generation games.

Peter Moore, head of worldwide marketing and publishing for the Xbox 360, says Microsoft wants to get the Xbox 360 into living rooms around the world this Christmas and build major momentum by Christmas 2006. Sony and smaller console maker Nintendo plan to launch during the year. At launch, there will be 18 Xbox 360 games available. Analysts called the line-up strong, but say it lacks the blockbuster to make the console a must-own. The Xbox 360 is due in Australia early next year.

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