Microsoft has blasted through one of the biggest challenges in Western games console marketing, officially reporting complete stock sell-out of machines in Japan yesterday.

While reports came through last week that 360s were sold out in Akihabara shops, this week has shown an unprecedented success in Microsoft's Nippon fortunes.

Microsoft showed its surprise in an official statement, released yesterday and translated by Kotaku, saying:

"Our own sales targets have been exceeded by the actual customer sales. We deeply apologise for any inconvenience to our customers, retailers and business partners."

Sensible Strategies

While the company are probably feeling anything but apologetic as its previously flagging console sells out in Japanese shops, it's arguable how long this new-found dominance may actually last, and doubts remain over certain factors the sell-out may actually be based on.

The launch last week of format-exclusive Tales of Vesperia has been cited by many as the sole reason for the 360's jump in popularity.

"The 360 was always going to see an upsurge in sales with the release of Vesperia – it happened last year as well when Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey hit stores over there," says Tim Weaver, editor of Xbox 360 World.

"Both games are epic RPGs in the same way as Vesperia, and RPGs are the staple diet of console gamers in Japan. Microsoft's strategy is very sensible, and seems to be based around a quiet acceptance that they won't be troubling PS3 and Wii for long periods over there, but – at the same time – ensuring that, when they can, they'll continue to score small victories using Uncle Bill's billions.

"Next year, they've got a system-exclusive Star Ocean title coming – combined series sales for Star Ocean are close to three million – as well as the big one: Final Fantasy XIII. Expect sales spikes when those hit stores too."