Microsoft launched the Xbox Video Chat services in Japan this time a year ago, leading up to the launch with fantastic television advertising. ‘Habitat’, the futuristic XBox Video Chat television ad, starts with a sweeping shot over Tokyo, focusing on the grass topped apartments. A reference to the green in the XBox logo? A green flying insect takes us into a close up of one apartment top, moving us to to circles, squares, cables, speakers and a smartly dressed young man in sunglasses holding a web cam. Holograms reveal three faces connected to his camera.
We’re now over the wall to another terrace where a young man and woman are enjoying a lunch with fresh fruit. Screens on the lunch trays reveal the face of our sunglassed man. Our insect flys over the wall to another garden where a reclining young woman holds her web camera to show pink flying disks in the sky behind her. She appears on a screen with four other faces.
The fifth face belongs to a DJ with a skull-spotted shirt inside the building. Our insect flies over more buildings and down to the beach where sunbathers join in the video chat. The camera pulls back to show us that the beach is on the top of another apartment. A hang glider cruises past below us. The imagery morphs into the Xbox Video chat logo.
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The XBox Video Chat TV Ad was developed at Los Angeles-based production and animation company Logan, under the leadership of executive producer Kevin Shapiro. Music was developed by Brahmstedt White Noise’s (BWN) Chris Heidman. See the Pluginz article for more details.
Xbox Live Video Chat lets up to five people chat via web cam over Xbox Live. The package includes a camera, a 12-month subscription to Xbox Live, an Xbox Live Voice Communicator, Video Chat Disk with software needed to make it all work, and an Xbox Live Starter Kit Disk. The Xbox Video Chat provides for voice alteration and comes with 40 preinstalled background music tracks. It includes a function to turn the TV screen into a mirror temporarily, so players can groom themselves before joining a conversation.
At a press conference in June 2004 Xbox Japan marketing director Takashi Sensui gave explanations for Microsoft’s decision to debut the service in Japan exclusively. For one, the project was developed by the Japanese Xbox team. The main reason, though, was Japan’s broadband infrastructure. Broadband connections have become the norm in Japanese households over the last two years, mainly due to the low price of connection fees. On average, a 51Mbps ADSL connection costs around 4,000 yen ($36) per month in Japan.