Microsoft Admits Japan "Hasn't Always Been the Easiest" Market for Xbox

But Xbox boss Phil Spencer says it will be "good to launch" Xbox One in September and have a place at Tokyo Game Show.

Writing on Twitter last night, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer admitted that the Xbox brand has not been a top-performer in Japan, but said this isn't keeping him from looking forward to the Xbox One's launch in the region come September.

A fan asked Spencer if Microsoft is looking at Sony's own recent admission that the PlayStation 4 is only doing "OK" in Japan as an opportunity to "conquer Japan." Spencer replied: "We will be in Japan in September. Japan hasn't always been the easiest market for us, will be good to launch and be at Tokyo Game Show."

The Xbox One launches in Japan on September 4, while this year's Tokyo Game Show (TGS) takes place September 18-21.

PlayStation boss Andrew House said in a previous interview that one of the reasons the PS4 hasn't gotten off to a great start in Japan is because there is currently a lack of content created by Japanese developers that would appeal directly to the home crowd.

For its part, Microsoft has suggested it won't have the same issue in Japan. Phil Spencer said in March that the Japanese market is "critical" and even teased that Microsoft has first-party games in development in the region.

"We remain committed to the Japanese market," Spencer said at the time. "And I know our launch is a little further out, but we're going to be at Tokyo Game Show again, we've got first-party games being developed in Japan, and just as a creative entity itself, the Japanese development community, it's critical for us in the industry that we continue to invest there and see great games come out."

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @EddieMakuch
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Written By

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and is a big UCONN athletics fan.

Discussion

341 comments
Tranula
Tranula

Same could be said for the American Market lol.

darthburrito
darthburrito

Well that's because those Japs have small hands and cant handle a real controller.

gunnmetal
gunnmetal

where is that 720p TV xb one world4games dude with eternal_facepalm dude? they are probably making out at a gamestop.

Vodoo
Vodoo

Screw Japan. I bet they aren't buying the PS4 because it was American made. They don't buy anything that isn't made in Japan. Let them sit in the corner with their stupid mobile games. Their developers can't make a good game to save their life, and the Japanese consumers have terrible taste in games.

punion11
punion11

That's why they had to eventually remove kinect it doesn't understand Japanese or Chinese for that matter, that I know of course.

danusty
danusty

do you guys/gals remember when tales of vesperia, eternal sonata, infinite undiscovery, blue dragon, lost odyssey made the 360 sell like crazy in japan? neither do I

danusty
danusty

neither the PS4 nor the One are going to do well considering the kinds of games (the vast majority of them) that are coming out for both consoles

danusty
danusty

if the PS4 is not selling well in it's home country, I doubt the One will do any better that it's western ancestors

soulless4now
soulless4now

They don't care about anything related to xbox. 

Shango4
Shango4

Let's not forget China, the so-called "Savior" of the Xbox One.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Didn't I read that pre-orders for the One in Japan were strong and were number one for a few weeks at top online retailers?

Regardless if they overtake the market, MSs commitment to the region cements their commitment to gaming. That gets a lot of respect in my book.

EdAl2112
EdAl2112

Turns out they don't like american football that much. who knew?

bluedeathking
bluedeathking

Do you some of you guy know there has been American products that did extremely well in japan? There not as xenophobic as some of you guys want to think. Not sure where this mind set come from but Xbox has done well before was because the audience is different there (JRPG, Fighting, Action games) then here (WRPG, Shooters and Graphic whores).

kimjong-un
kimjong-un

I donate both my kidneys if Xbox One have Japan success - Kim

greaseman1985
greaseman1985

Release a bunch of tentacle monster and schoolgirl anime games and you'll have the Japanese market in no time.

quicktim3
quicktim3

hypothetically heres what i would do to win japan over if i was Microsoft. first i would buy capcom. then come out with a next gen Monster Hunter console game exclusive to XBO. Selling it as a bundle. Marketing the crap out of it.


make sure you keep releasing it for the DS though. to keep people familiar with the ip.  


honestly that's what Microsoft needs. a heavy knock out punch to get its system into the hands of japan players. then once its finally grown its instal base. more opportunities will start to open up with japanese developers and it can grow from there. 

poopoohed
poopoohed

@darthburrito  Or there's scenario #2. Those "japs" are smart and know a second rate game console made by a second rate software company when they see one.

calamityo
calamityo

@danusty Pretty much do. In fact, have all of the above games. Here is the problem. The xbox system has always attracted a certain type of game(s) on it, along with a certain type of demo-graph. Basically it boils down to the image of the console. The PS has always attracted anime fans, due to the type of games that are constantly on the system (mostly JRPG's). WRPG's tend to fare better on the Xbox.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@danusty I do ! I do!  -Yeah you still gotta give MS props for aggressively trying to make inroads into the land of the rising sun. And microsoft sold poorly which everyone knows - but the tie rate or tie in ratio for gamer per console were huge. While the console didn't sale well those that were bought got alot of games played on them. Western RPGs fallout, bioshock, mass effect etc sold well and were rated very high - tastes are changing. 

But there is still huge discrimination of (western games) that is considered culturally unacceptable. Still microsoft didn't reap very much of what it spent trying to crack the market. 

Now would I launch the xbox 1 in Japan .... Yes. No question,.. yes.

Not only does Japan still represent 20-30% of the worlds video game consuming market - it is also a vital part of the Asian market where the Philippines,  Korea, China, India, and more is at stake.  You cannot expand your market in those areas without Japan, and games from Japan on your console. Square enix, capcom, konami, and others. IT is hard to get those developers to make triple AAA games if a large part of their customers do not have access to that console. 

If you do not plan for the future -XB2 9th gen- then the only ones remembering you will be the history books.  (personally I am still not buying a xbox 1 or ps4 for at least a year after launch, and still uncomfortable with some of its policies even after backtracking much of MS crazy policies. It is getting harder as some of the 8th gen games look great.) 

skiggy34
skiggy34

@danusty Why not, the xbox one is selling the best in its own country.......

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@Shango4 Can you really count it yet? Have they started selling it there? How many units have shipped there? And in what cities are they allowed to sell it? What's it cost?


There seems to be a lot factors to consider before you can call China a success or a bust for any console, and it would all be relative. 

TristanPR77
TristanPR77

Wasn't Titanfall the savior of the xbone?

How many other saviors it needs?

59Hertz
59Hertz

@Sevenizz haha X1, It's like a Roku combined with a brand new cable box. that needs to be connected to other cable boxes, obviously. MS has quite the commitment to gaming, for sure.

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@bluedeathking When I first read "graphic whores" I thought you meant games with bewbs, and not gamers that only care about graphics (which, I'm not sure you can fairly say about Western gamers, considering the unfortunate love for CoD). And I was thinking: "But date simulators, Dead or Alive, Soul Calibur bewb physics, and Chun-Li..."

quicktim3
quicktim3

@bluedeathking i know apple products are doing very well. People have to understand the market there which is way different then other countries. I mean people view the Xbox as a "violent bloody hardcore fps console" and unfortunately thats pretty much the opposite of what Japanese gamers want. 

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

What came about that Capcom sale? I'm surprised no one's picked up on it yet. Half a billion for some of the strongest gaming franchises in the east and west seems like a cash cow. Especially for MS with their latest console about to launch in Japan.

Microsoft - just buy the damn thing. It costs literally pennies to you.

krazken
krazken

@quicktim3 It was a sad day when Microsoft gained exclusivity with RARE.

krazken
krazken

@quicktim3 They would need to bring back some of the Capcom classics, too, but they would need to give Capcom freedom to work autonomously. Otherwise they'll butcher and ultimately ruin the Capcom brands. I don't have a lot of faith in Microsoft's creativity in game design.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Meanwhile, I don't even use the tv feature as I dropped cable years ago.

TV sux.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

Bro - ever hear of Google?

tmorri603
tmorri603

@quicktim3 I wonder why people get the impression that Xbox is a fps console? MS has only one fps IP that is their own and that is Halo while Sony has 2 (Killzone and Resistance). I know that there has not been another Resistance game in awhile but Sony owns the rights to it and can make another if they choose to do so. All other fps have been made by thrid parties and were on both systems but MS's systems gets labeled the "fps game system". That is very unfair.

bluedeathking
bluedeathking

@quicktim3  thanks, I kind forgot to proof read what I wrote and you have perfectly said what I meant

divinejester
divinejester

@quicktim3 Frozen was one of the top movies at the box office. Like you said MS does poorly their because of the different tastes in games. DQ is a niche franchise here, while in Japan its one of the best selling franchises. Even Monster Hunter is massive there compared to here.

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@krazken @quicktim3 Microsoft bought them in 2002. Rare had already lost talent by then. Hell, the first TimeSplitters game was already out by then, and that was made by GoldenEye and Perfect Dark vets.

quicktim3
quicktim3

@krazken @quicktim3 that company was already going down under anyway, before microsoft bought them many of their talented employee had already left as the company started to fall apart. then Microsoft swooped in and saved them you could say. 


since then though, i agree they've released crap games. but thats not entirely Microsofts fault. they didn't force Rare to make kinect games. Rare is just a shell of its former self which is sad to see. 

quicktim3
quicktim3

@krazken @quicktim3 i agree, they would probably fall under if they released everything exclusive to xbox. 


thats why keep releasing game to like MH to DS. hell maybe even PS Vita to keep bringing in the cash flow. But I would certainly make MH a console exclusive to XBO. it would def move systems. 


for street fighter maybe keep it an Xbox PC exclusive. 


for their other IPs idk, all of them haven't been doing very well. MH is really the only thing going for capcom atm.  


calamityo
calamityo

@tmorri603  In terms on quantity and diversity in games. Xbox has more shooters, than the PS. Also, in terms of 'dlc content first' for shooters, Xbox get it first.     

krazken
krazken

@gokartmozart89 @krazken @quicktim3 When I think of Rare games, Goldeneye and Perfect Dark are on the list, but more importantly, Donkey Kong Country/64, BattleToads, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, Jet Force Gemini, and Killer Instinct.

I think they could have still made some great games by staying with Nintendo.

Sevenizz
Sevenizz

It's not really fair to blame MS for Rare's situation. Many of their franchises just don't fit with the Xbox brand. The advantage I see was keeping Rare out of Nintendo's reach, and possibly Sony's.

Capcom would be different. They compliment each other.

krazken
krazken

@quicktim3 I was thinking more of the classics, like re-imagining Megaman or Ghosts n' Goblins to maximize the current generation consoles instead of just low-priced, downloadable titles (like they've done with Strider, Bionic Commando, 1942, etc. which were all fun games, but not AAA).

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@krazken @gokartmozart89 @quicktim3 Again, you're not looking at time frames. Battletoads was 91; DKC was 99; Perect Dark and Banjo Tooie were both 2000; Gemini Jet Fofce was 99; and KI2 was 96. A lot of that talent had to leave well before 2000 in order for TimeSlpitters to be done by then. I.E., a lot of the people that worked on KI2 in 97-8 and and GJF in 97-98 were gone by the time of the MSFT buyout in 2002. You can look that up by just cross checking the names in the game credits.

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@Sevenizz  A lot of the talent at Rare also simply left before Microsoft bought them. Free Radical for example (now Crytek UK) was founded in 1999 and MSFT bought Rare in 2002. Free Radical was a lot of Goldeneye and Perfect Dark vets. 

krazken
krazken

@gokartmozart89 @Sevenizz Don't you think a lot of the talent could have also seen the negotiations with Microsoft, which could have been a further catalyst to leave?

I don't know. It's hard to really know without hearing the whole story from multiple viewpoints. It just seems like Nintendo and Rare had a great thing going and it's a shame that another company came in and broke up the party.

gokartmozart89
gokartmozart89

@krazken @gokartmozart89 @Sevenizz Not really, no. Timesplitters came out in 2000. Microsoft bought them in 2002. In other words, the Godleneye and PD vets that had left must have done so some time before 2000 in order to TS to be released by then. In other words, no I don't think they left as a result of the MSFT buy out, 2 years before the buyout was done. No, I don't think they're clarevoyant.