According to new European Xbox 360 box art made available to retailers, and confirmed by press materials, publisher Sega has confirmed that the Xbox 360 version of Sports Interactive’s Football Manager 2006 (aka Worldwide Soccer Manager 2006) will be the first commercially available Xbox 360 title to require a hard drive in order to run.
A hugely successful genre on the PC in Europe, soccer management games have rarely proven as popular on consoles, due to the huge amount of processing power required and equally large demands for memory card storage space. Although neither developer or publisher has commented directly, it is the latter that is presumed to be the primary reason for making the presence of a hard drive mandatory.
Technically, the first Xbox 360 game to require a hard drive is the demo of massively multiplayer online role-playing game Final Fantasy XI, although the full retail version of Square Enix's title has not yet shipped, and it was already known that such a large MMO title would require greater storage to successfully operate.
Microsoft's somewhat controversial Xbox 360 Core bundle, which retails for $299 in North America, does not ship with a hard drive, and the release of games that will not work with the console out of the box creates an obvious opportunity for confusion and frustration with games buyers. However, with so few games announced so far that require the hard drive though any major problems associated with fracturing the Xbox 360 userbase are unlikely in the short term.