The Microsoft Xbox 360 Elite is to be released in Japan this coming October. Microsoft made the announcement today, sparking even more rumours that a European release could be close.

The Xbox 360 Elite will hit Japanese shelves on 11th October. Microsoft will be hoping that it has the same impact there that it did when it launched earlier this year in the United States.

It only seems a matter of time now until Microsoft makes some kind of announcement about the 360 Elite's European launch.

This week, Play.com slashed the price of the normal Xbox 360 Premium console, sparking rumours that the Elite's launch was looming.

Euro launch imminent?

Back in March, we reported that the 360 Elite was set to launch in the UK at some point in the late summer. Then an HMV spokesperson spoke to Eurogamer, and said: "All we understand is that it's at some point perhaps around the late summer, but we don't know anything beyond that.

"We're expecting the product to be sold sooner rather than later, and obviously nearer that point we'll have a fuller idea of all their launch plans, precise timings, pricing and everything else from a retail point of view we're likely to know."

Then last week came the rumour that the Elite would launch in Europe on the 24th of August. That fitted in nicely with the earlier 'late summer' statement by the HMV man.