Microsoft to Host Xbox One Global Launch Events

Redmond is giving the Xbox One a big sendoff by hosting a series of worldwide midnight launch celebrations Nov. 22.

The Xbox One arrives on Nov. 22, and Microsoft is hoping that it will make a big splash by hosting midnight openings worldwide along with a series of events leading up to the official release, which Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of marketing and strategy, described as "the biggest launch in the history of Xbox" in an Xbox Wire post.

"More than 10,000 retail locations in 13 countries will open their doors at 12:01 a.m. on Nov. 22," announced Lisa Gurry, editor of Microsoft's Xbox Wire news site. As parts of the globe spin closer toward midnight, the company will help kick off events in "in major cities around the world, starting in Auckland, NZ and continuing through Sydney, London, New York City and Los Angeles." Events are also planned for Vienna, Austria; Sao Paulo, Brazil; and Toronto.

On-the-scene footage will be televised during a live broadcast on Spike TV and will be streamed on and Xbox live at 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT on Nov. 21. Participating in local Midnight Madness events are select Best Buy, GameStop, Walmart and Microsoft retail locations.

New York City will play host to the premier U.S. launch event. Microsoft is offering 1,000 buyers an early chance to purchase the console a day early at the Best Buy Theater in Times Square on Nov. 21, where there will also be celebrity appearances and on-site game demos. On the West Coast, gamers can head to Milk Studios in Los Angeles, which will be converted into "a gamer haven, with gameplay stations for Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Dead Rising 3, Killer Instinct, and other Xbox One game titles," stated Gurry.

It's not the first time Microsoft has hosted a big product launch in New York City. Last year, the software giant used a sprawling warehouse on Manhattan's West Side and a "takeover" of Times Square for the Windows 8 release.

Fitting the international theme of the Xbox One kickoff, Microsoft is also making the most of some high-profile tourist meccas.

"Australia will light up the iconic Sydney Harbour for the launch of Xbox One," said Gurry, and Madrid's Colon Square will give attendees a hands-on experience with the hardware. Similar events are planned for city centers of Paris, Berlin and London.

Xbox One is the successor to the company's popular Xbox 360 console. The 360 launched in 2005 and has sold 80 million units to date.

The new cloud-connected console, which will compete with the Sony PlayStation 4 (available Nov. 15) for gamers' attention this holiday season, includes a Kinect motion sensor and consolidates several functions, including Skype video calling, streaming, TV, Blu-ray playback and SkyDrive-powered photo slide shows, into one device. During the Xbox One reveal at Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., campus on May 21, Don Mattrick, then the head of the Xbox unit (now CEO of Zynga), unveiled his company's latest push into the living room by calling the device "the ultimate, all-in-one home entertainment system."

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...