Microsoft expects to sell more of its Xbox 360 consoles in 2008 than it did in 2007, citing European sales as a key factor in its ongoing efforts to take the lead in the console market.

Jeff Bell, global marketing chief for Microsoft Games, said the Xbox 360 was doing well in the U.K. and was also making gains in France and Germany, but that Sony’s recent price cut to the PlayStation 3 had boosted that console’s fortunes as well. “Europe for us is still the swing,” Bell said in an interview with Reuters. “The biggest challenge is that Sony as a brand has had greater staying power than in other areas. Not just PlayStation 3, but Sony as a brand.”

Bell said that Microsoft’s sales in Japan would also improve in 2008 as a result of recent and upcoming game releases from well-known Japanese developers, despite the dismally poor performance of the Xbox 360 in that market to date. “We will sell more consoles next year than this year,” he said. “We don’t want to trade places with anybody.”

And when asked about the benefits of Nintendo’s ongoing Wii shortage, Bell commented, “Sometimes you’re good, sometimes you’re lucky, and it’s wonderful when you’re both.”

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