Japanese Xbox Fans Getting 250GB HDD in March

Microsoft announces a 250GB hard-disc drive for Xbox 360 owners in Japan, with no plans (yet) of bringing it to the United States.

Microsoft announced on Feb. 1 that it would be selling a 250GB hard-disc drive add-on for the Xbox 360 gaming console on March 11, but there's a catch: The hard drive, for now, will only be available in Japan. The device will retail for 15,540 yen, or approximately $170. According to the press release (when translated from Japanese), two other products, a Wireless Controller Game Pack and a Wireless LAN adapter N will also go on sale on March 11. The wireless control will retail for 5,775 yen (about $63) and the wireless LAN adapter is listed at (nearly $100). The game pack includes an Xbox 360 black wireless controller, and four Xbox LIVE Arcade titles: Bomberman Live; the puzzle game Lumines; Pac-Man: Championship Edition; and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2.

The wireless LAN adapter offers WPA2 encryption support and IEEE 802.11n Draft 2.0 /a/b/g standards. The adapter is currently available to Xbox owners in North America and retails for $99.99, according to Microsoft's Website. Kei Iwasaki, a Microsoft spokesman in Tokyo, said the company has "no plans" to sell the HDD outside of Japan. "Microsoft has no current plans to put it on sale as a stand-alone unit outside of Japan," Iwasaki said.

Earlier this year at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Microsoft announced plans to distribute its new Kodu video game design program for novices through its Xbox Live community this spring. Kodu, which was formerly known as Boku, is a new visual programming language that comes out of Microsoft Research. It was made specifically for creating games, and it runs on the Xbox and uses a game controller and allows for rapid design iteration. Kodu also runs on a PC. According to Microsoft Research, the core of the Kodu project is the programming user interface, and the language itself is simple and entirely icon-based. The Kodu language provides specialized primitives derived from gaming scenarios. And programs are expressed in physical terms, using concepts such as vision, hearing and time to control character behavior.

During their Jan. 28 earnings call, Microsoft reported that revenues for its Entertainment and Devices Division dipped from $3.25 billion to $2.9 billion. The company reported shipping 5.2 million new Xbox 360 game consoles in Q4 2009, down 13 percent from the same period in 2008. Microsoft also announced, during CES, that sales of Xbox 360 consoles had passed 39 million worldwide.