Microsoft will take Asia's mature game-playing culture into account when it launches its Xbox games console next month. Xbox Asia senior director Alex Kotowitz said the company had taken time in rolling out the Asian edition because of localisation issues. 'What we are really trying to establish with Xbox in Asia is an Xbox Asia company. We are not trying to take a Japanese, North American or Europe business model and see if it is going to work for the rest of Asia,' he said. 'We really work hard with local retailers, publishers and regional sales organisations and build a business model and a consumer offering that really resonate in Asia.' Microsoft announced in Hong Kong this week that it would launch the console on November 22 at a price of HK$1,599. It will be launched in Singapore on the same day and in Taiwan on November 29. It will then be introduced in Korea at a date yet to be announced. 'In Asia, gaming is part of the social culture - that is a huge dynamic difference from the rest of the world. Gaming is totally accepted as a pastime in Asia,' Mr Kotowitz said. The company was building a local portfolio of its game titles, with greater emphasis on role-playing and action games that were most popular in the region, he said. Most games will have localised packaging and documentation while some titles such as Halo and Harry Potter are in local languages. Xbox was first launched in the United States last November at US$299. At the time, Merrill Lynch analysts estimated the company would lose US$125 on every unit it sold. Since then, the price has been cut to US$200 to compete with Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's GameCube. Microsoft Hong Kong general manager Mark Phibbs forecast at this week's launch that the firm would become the leading games console business, though he was unsure how long this might take. However, analysts believe Microsoft has a long way to go. Games and technology research firm Informa Media Group estimates Sony will have 69 per cent of the world console market by the end of the year, with sales of 48.4 million for PlayStation 2. Sales of Nintendo's GameCube are expected to reach 15 million and Microsoft 6.9 million. Microsoft is counting on its games titles and future services to bring in revenues. About 50 titles - costing about HK$300 each - will be available when the console is launched in Hong Kong next month. Mr Kotowitz said 300 titles would be available by the end of this year with another 300 titles in production. However, consumers say this barely compares to the more than 2,000 games available for PlayStation 2. Meanwhile, illegal copies of Xbox game titles are widely available in shopping malls for HK$20 each. Despite speculation that the launch of Xbox had been postponed because of the high rate of game piracy, Mr Kotowitz said: 'We are absolutely on track for when we want to launch.' An accompanying Internet service, Xbox Live, will be introduced in the United States on November 15. Sources said the online gaming-playing service would be available in Hong Kong within 12 months. Mr Kotowitz said no date had been confirmed as it depended on the broadband and console penetration in the region. 'It is something very much at the top of our minds,' he said. 'We want to make sure we bring online content to the platform that resonates with particular gamers in particular marketplaces. Right now, we are working hard on developing online content for Asia.'