Xbox 360 in Japan: second life?

Takashi Sensui says the best is yet to come for the Xbox 360 in Japan; cast of heavyweights promos console, game lineup in TGS opener.

TOKYO--The weather was hot and sunny in Tokyo on Wednesday, probably making more than a few attendees of the Xbox 360 media briefing wish they were relaxing in one of the city's many parks with an ice tea or cold beer rather than hanging out in the Cerulean Tower Hotel's underground ballroom where the event took place. However, the 200 or so journalists who turned out were rewarded with a dynamic and in-depth presentation. This briefing served both to introduce the new Xbox 360 games and peripherals that will be shown at the Tokyo Game Show and to fire an opening shot in Microsoft's bid to "relaunch" the Xbox 360 in Japan.

The event kicked off on schedule, opening with a video projected on a wide screen at the front of the ballroom. The video pummeled the spectators with a blast of load music and visuals that juxtaposed images of a martial artist with those of the Xbox 360 hardware and software. Though the martial artist appeared to kick the Xbox a couple of times, the overall impression was one of speed and power.

When the video finished, Microsoft Japan's Xbox czar, Takashi Sensui (pictured above), welcomed attendees. His voice rising and falling rhythmically, he seemed to stutter or stumble over his own words as he delivered the opening comments. Not to say that he seemed unsure of himself; rather, he appeared to become quite emotional as he discussed the Xbox and its community of users. "The first thing I want to say is that since its launch last year, the user base of the Xbox 360, which we can say constitutes a single global community, has been steadily and greatly increasing. Microsoft is on target to ship 10 million units worldwide by the end of this year." He hoped this might indicate Microsoft is doing something right, even if Japan sales have been a bit sluggish so far.

Swanky.

Speaking of which, Sensui did not directly mention the Xbox 360's hitherto spotty Japan-side performance. Rather, he focused on the future. "The [Xbox 360] is approaching a turning point in its growth in the Japanese market. From now on, evolution in next-generation games will require qualitative changes." The kinds of changes he meant are outlined in Microsoft's new marketing campaign for the system. This campaign consists of three components, as suggested by the advertising slogan: "do! do! do!" The three "do's" are "do! Game," "do! Choice," and "do! Live," and it's on these three pillars that Microsoft hopes to build a foundation for success in Japan.

Sensui said the Xbox will have "the strongest lineup in history...Over 100 titles, including those for Live Arcade are planned for Japan." Regarding the "choice" aspect, Sensui touted the Xbox's personalization features, both in terms of hardware configurations and online profiles. "[The Xbox] offers flexibility found in no other console," he said. As for Xbox Live, he remarked that it was building a "brighter, more social environment" for gamers.

Corporate vice president of interactive entertainment business, entertainment, and devices division Peter Moore also stepped in to talk a little more about Microsoft's Japan strategy. Key to this will be "redefining the way Japanese gamers think about games" and producing more content "by Japanese developers for Japanese gamers." This will include 50 titles that will be exclusively for Japan, though he did not mention how these are divided up between Live Arcade and retail games. He also stressed that of the 110 titles to be released in Japan, fully 70 will be produced by Japanese developers. He further emphasized that Microsoft's strategy is global in scope, with the Xbox 360 slated to roll out in India later this week and in South Africa next week. Moore also introduced five new Xbox Live Arcade titles: Yie Ar Kung Fu, Gyruss, Rush 'n Attack, Ms. Pac Man, and New Rally X. Yie Ar Kung Fu will be exclusive to Japan.

MS gets the ballroom in the basement.

It was in this context that Peter Moore announced the first-ever World Pac-Man Championships. The championship will pit the top 10 Xbox Live players against each other sometime in 2007. Details, such as the venue and date, are still TBA. During Moore's presentation, Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani made a surprise visit. When asked about his thoughts on his creation, Iwatani said, "I hope that Pac-Man will become a new communication tool that transcends generations."

Some video presentations of upcoming third-party games were also shown. First off, the DOA Extreme 2 trailer treated attendees to a titillating display of prancing female characters from Tecmo's Dead or Alive franchise. Following the five or so minutes of bouncing and jiggling, Sensui simply said "I have nothing further to add," to the amusement of the audience.

Footage of Lost Planet and a first look at Trusty Bell, an animelike Japanese role-playing game, were also shown. Infinite Undiscovery also got a brief plug but unfortunately no visuals. However, the centerpiece of the game videos was live demos of Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, both from Mistwalker Studios. Blue Dragon, which is near completion, looked particularly polished, with Akira Toriyama's character designs making a prominent appearance. Mistwalker's Hironobu Sakaguchi, who appeared to introduce the games and show off the demos, said of the graphics, "We rendered it like a Pixar film...that you can control." The Lost Odyssey demo showed what looks to be a very dark RPG aimed at older gamers. Of this title, Sakaguchi said he hoped to create "a totally fresh" RPG.

Will they be enough?

Many more new titles were introduced briefly by way of video, some flashing by for only a few seconds. GameSpot editors will have to wait for the Tokyo Game Show to get a closer look at these.

A host of new peripherals were also shown off at the briefing, including the Vision camera (just released in North America), a wireless headset peripheral, and a wireless racing wheel. But the most praise was saved for the HD-DVD player add-on. A working model of this showcased some of the next-generation format's features, such as user-defined bookmarks and picture-in-picture displays. Almost as an afterthought, Sensui brought out an actual HD-DVD unit to show the audience after the demonstration. This created probably the largest stir of the entire event, as press members mobbed the stage to photograph Sensui holding Microsoft's answer to Sony's Blu-ray drive.

With big names like Sakaguchi and Iwatani promoting the 360, Microsoft may indeed win over the hardcore-gamer segment. However, the question of whether casual gamers will go for the system is far from certain. One detrimental factor may be pricing. Two very high-profile titles--Dead Rising and Lost Planet--are priced at 8,379 yen ($71), a good 1,000-2,000 yen ($9-$17) higher than average titles. Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 will cost a staggering 9,240 yen ($79). Prices this high are usually only seen on certain genres in Japan. For example, games with a hardcore following like strategy or RPG titles are priced in the 7,000 to 9,800 yen ($60-$84) range. Age of Empires III is one example. On the other hand, many casual users may be won over by the Xbox Live Arcade, which will let them download games such as Lumines and Yir Ar Kung Fu at more affordable prices.

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139 comments
Kenji_Masamune
Kenji_Masamune

the crapbox will never succeed in asia, most gaijin things don't.

sirbargearse
sirbargearse

If Microsoft were to announce tomorrow that they're to cease video game production altogether their lasting legacy will be Xbox Live. But the one thing MS will never be envied for is marketing. They suck hard. The Xbox 1's microphone. Coulda beaten Sony to the Singstar punch. The Xbox 360 camera. Biggest potential selling feature gone to waste. But the biggest pain in their side is their Japanese market (or lack there of). I'm over the whole let's all hate Bill Gates fan club. If MS can bring better gaming without ridulous "me too" applications like Sony do... then they'll slowly win over Japanese designers. Then they'll see progress.

Sam_Lowery
Sam_Lowery

People usually assume that Japanese people will always prefer stuff from Japan, but that's not always the case. I think Ipod has over 90% of the MP3 market in Japan so it can be done. EvilAznGamer - "Sony has the best games (it'd be different if DQ and FF switch to wii but i can't see that happening" If DQ stands for Dragon Quest, that already went to the DS.

TheDudeAbides2
TheDudeAbides2

1 PS3 sale = 3 Wii sales Once RPG's come out Japan will fall into the fold and put all its backing into PS3.

EvilAznGamer
EvilAznGamer

i think, in the end. wii will win. MS and Sony will battle it out for 2nd place. MS has price advantage and Sony has the best games (it'd be different if DQ and FF switch to wii but i can't see that happening right away. they aren't really meant for the motion sensor controller wii has). japan is the biggest game market because it makes the best games and helped start the video game industry. many games suck but they usually don't go outside japan and many others are good and actually do well outside Japan. american games...don't really do as well as japanese games outside the country

ali_jmnz
ali_jmnz

japan is playstation and nintendo territory, hell the dreamcast has sold more than the xbox and xbox 360.....

beldugo
beldugo

the harder they try with japan the better it is for everyone else because we will keep getting hot titles.. what i hate with all my gut is the word exclusive.. seriously.. when they say we will be releasing over 110 games and a few of does will be exclusive to japan my blood boils inside.

swe_hotshot
swe_hotshot

Japan is a very important market, so they can't just quit in Japan.

R3DN1N3
R3DN1N3

I think what Microsoft should do is quit marketing to the Japanese and start rewarding their loyal fans In Europe am I right? I'm a native Californian so don't start thining this is coming from Europe lol. So yeah why keep worrying about what Japan's gamer's think. I've played a few of their Imports and let me tell u they got nothing special on the US. If Microsoft did go after the European market I can see them making huge sales there no problem. So hey Microsoft focus on the Europeans will ya? They've suffered long enough.

HyperMetaDragon
HyperMetaDragon

Calm down. And there is more to Xbox 360 than DoA X2, LP, and BD.

Platyphyllum
Platyphyllum

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

24dude13
24dude13

This equal rich to creators

amaranth_aeon
amaranth_aeon

Wow... some people really need to chill out...

wwonka666
wwonka666

jazreal why do i have the feeling that we are all fixing to see just how big of hipocrites Japan can be? i mean, im sick and freakin tired of hearing about the size of the box.....get over it....we americans call that penni# envy! oh ya i said it. all you quit being so dam# politicaly correct! if you japanese hate the box SOOOO much because of size, then be prepaired to HATE the ps3...ohhh...wait....im sorry....you mean that WAS just an excuse NOT to buy an american product over there......shut the @#$% up!!! i have been buying your freaking products all my life.....and as an american...i know something about loyalty.....its called football! you love your fav team, you hate the opponents! and thats ALL this is, im obvioulsly the only one brave enough t say so! the xbox blew ps2 out of the water technically, its games won game of the year five years in a row, had more original games(also won games of the year) instead of all of your freaking part 13's and part 35's, and microsoft won with original games and you all know it....i know....whahh this....and whatt that...say what you want...you know im right JAPAN(and not just japan but all others who follow a company blindly without knowing anything about what they do behind closed doors)! and as far as the 360....ohh you might want to sit down..because some more truth is fixing to hurt....EVERY MAJOR DEVELOPER are already saying that the 360 is FAR better than the ps3...i trust them....NOT your fanboyish comments...why do you think sony had to ...ready for this...(i doubt it) LIE!thats right, LIE at e3 and call MOVIE FOOTAGE actuall gameplay, while using 360 systems and graphics to do so!?!?!?ohhhh shut up, this is all true!!! look it up! no wonder you have to hide behind a fake since of "ohh im too good for an american product" so in your world its ok to follow a lying, thieving, ya i said theiving(stole nintendoes controller scheme, and microsofts LIVE format down to a tee!ohh quit crying, i know this hurts, but you know what hurts worse?!?! having to read some of these lazy, biased, game snobish and most obvious...IGNORANT comments....so....we will play the way you want to...GO TEAM WHAHHH...MS scored a touchddown....WHAHH....hide my head in shame because an america product kicked our as@#@....whahhh...blahh balhh..excuse excuse...and you call yourselves....GAMERS!!! p.s. and you can all say what you want......everything i said.....was a fact.......so have fun with all your replies trying to talk your ways out of all.....this.......TRUTH!!!! Well put, but I think that Japan isn't buying the 360 because of their culture. They are loyal, they would never buy a FORD, even the Japanese that live here, they buy a Toyota. I have a 360 and plan on getting an PS3 and a Wii, it appears though that Japanese gamers like to stick with just one console and we here in America are just pigs.

neovalkyr
neovalkyr

I've been reading some Japanese fourms and it seems like the xbox might start selling. Two different Japanese polls, one on Cnet the other on Yahoo, have the x360 as the top choice. Also it appears people are having trouble pre-ordering Dead Rising, because the pre-orders got filled as soon as they started accepting them.

mike_mgoblue
mike_mgoblue

I agree: Microsoft has reached a turning point. I have read two different articles where people interviewed said that both Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey would result in ONE-MILLION additional Xbox 360 systems being sold in Japan. The fact that Microsoft has lowered the price of the Xbox 360 Core system to only $249 in Japan, AND they are including both Project Gotham Racing and Ninety Nine Nights AND a play-and-charge kit, AND high-definition Component cables is AMAZING!!! Plus, when Blue Dragon is released, that game will ALSO be packed in the with Xbox 360 Core system for only $249!!!!!!! That is AMAZING!!! That is fantastic!!! That is incredible!!! That is what they are talking about when they say that the Xbox 360 has been "relaunched" and it is going to sell out this Christmas!!!

Matth13
Matth13

i just read Ken's Sony Press conference and it totally sucked. Advantage: MS

santiagochile
santiagochile

The Japanese people don't want the XBOX. The Wii and the PS3 will battle over who wins in Japan, but it's over for Microsoft in Japan! If the 360 is such a great product, like Microsoft claims, it should have done better the first launch! This is a joke!

xtrememorph
xtrememorph

seems to be a very very weak software line up. No big titles, just 2 rpg and bunch of not so worth to mention live arcade game.

Cunder
Cunder

Sorry to say, if the first time didn't help the sec. isn't gonna do much of anything. It's no different having to listening to from Mr. Moore himself. When he try to use words tring to sell the 360 in Japan. And look what happen at release of Japan.

ClaudeLv250
ClaudeLv250

"Second Life" implies that the 360 actually had a first one in Japan. The thing tanked harder than the original, and if Microsoft doesn't watch what they're doing, their unabashed confidence in winning over the unwilling Japanese audience will just lead them to neglect the consumer base they already have.

smurphage
smurphage

Wow jaz, you had some keen insite. I mean, with all your XBOX bias, who needs any of their own. I'm a keen nintendo fan from the original days, and I fell for the PS1 when it came out too. When the XBOX came out I was all "Oooo, pretty". But then the game content was always lacking. Evrything always seemed non original and too easy. I can't see how you can say the PS2 hasn't had any original games, with games like Shadow of the Colosus and Katamari, you can't get much more original. Sure, Halo was fun to play, but the XBOX is still stuck how much it loves that one game. Get a grip, your a fanboy too.

EPaul
EPaul

Does anyone know y the japanese hate the xbox and the xbox 360 so much?

jazreal
jazreal

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

paoloa
paoloa

Can't wait to get my hands on Blue Dragon :) Could be the RPG the 360 is long waiting for aye? (still got a bad taste from Enchanted Arms...bleh lol)

spelledarn
spelledarn

Whoa, Jazreal... Settle down a bit. It's about /games/. If you get this riled up about how people spend their free time, I'd hate to see how angry you get about politics. ;)

rad_2xl
rad_2xl

jazreal you're a fool. Anyway, I think the Xbox 360 will pick up a little bit in Japan soon. But it will still be No. 3. Sony and N are just too big overthere. M aybe, in 4 years. when MS releases the Xbox Integral, they will p lan ahead and have so m e great J apanese games for th e launch in Japan. B ecause it was the sorry ass laun c h line- up that killed the Xbox 360 in japan.

jazreal
jazreal

why do i have the feeling that we are all fixing to see just how big of hipocrites Japan can be? i mean, im sick and freakin tired of hearing about the size of the box.....get over it....we americans call that penni# envy! oh ya i said it. all you quit being so dam# politicaly correct! if you japanese hate the box SOOOO much because of size, then be prepaired to HATE the ps3...ohhh...wait....im sorry....you mean that WAS just an excuse NOT to buy an american product over there......shut the @#$% up!!! i have been buying your freaking products all my life.....and as an american...i know something about loyalty.....its called football! you love your fav team, you hate the opponents! and thats ALL this is, im obvioulsly the only one brave enough t say so! the xbox blew ps2 out of the water technically, its games won game of the year five years in a row, had more original games(also won games of the year) instead of all of your freaking part 13's and part 35's, and microsoft won with original games and you all know it....i know....whahh this....and whatt that...say what you want...you know im right JAPAN(and not just japan but all others who follow a company blindly without knowing anything about what they do behind closed doors)! and as far as the 360....ohh you might want to sit down..because some more truth is fixing to hurt....EVERY MAJOR DEVELOPER are already saying that the 360 is FAR better than the ps3...i trust them....NOT your fanboyish comments...why do you think sony had to ...ready for this...(i doubt it) LIE!thats right, LIE at e3 and call MOVIE FOOTAGE actuall gameplay, while using 360 systems and graphics to do so!?!?!?ohhhh shut up, this is all true!!! look it up! no wonder you have to hide behind a fake since of "ohh im too good for an american product" so in your world its ok to follow a lying, thieving, ya i said theiving(stole nintendoes controller scheme, and microsofts LIVE format down to a tee!ohh quit crying, i know this hurts, but you know what hurts worse?!?! having to read some of these lazy, biased, game snobish and most obvious...IGNORANT comments....so....we will play the way you want to...GO TEAM WHAHHH...MS scored a touchddown....WHAHH....hide my head in shame because an america product kicked our as@#@....whahhh...blahh balhh..excuse excuse...and you call yourselves....GAMERS!!! p.s. and you can all say what you want......everything i said.....was a fact.......so have fun with all your replies trying to talk your ways out of all.....this.......TRUTH!!!!

vamroc
vamroc

This all about the big S Microsoft wants to rub how successful the 360 is right in Sony's face. What better way to do that then to have a sizable foot hold in your opponents territory. Now Sony has to Fight on two fronts and we all know how that ended for Hitler

SergeStorms
SergeStorms

I am a little surprised at how hard Microsofit is going to continue to go after Japan. It has to be all about that one world connectivity they see as the future. I keep thinking if they hit a big killer app, they will at least get a foot hold there. Everyone speaks of the Japanese as hopelessly xenophobic and buying only Japanese brands. Well part of that is protectionism by trade restrictions, and part is the fact that WE ALL BUY A TON OF JAPANESE PRODUCTS. My cars, TV and stereo are all Japanese. Their companies turn out a ton of consumer products. It is just what they do. I suppose if a great product comes from the US that is entertaining, such as a lot of music and movies that do well there from the west, they may buy it.

saugh
saugh

Bit dissapointed at Japan exclusive titles, but i gues I can live with it

vaejas
vaejas

Nice to see the point on prices. Whereas I ordered Xenosaga III for $45 in Canada, here in Tokyo it's still close to $80 (Y7,900). Yet there are many used and budget titles for under $25. Some Team Ninja Xbox titles are 80% off at Tsutaya. It's purely what the market will bear, and if you want DOAX2 (like me) you ain't looking at the price tag. But it's bloody high.

LiK
LiK

looking forward to all the new games. i could care less what the nay-sayers here have to say. i wanna play those games!

d-suhiti
d-suhiti

Yeh, Doo, Doo, Do, Do. Dam it !!!

DrCLos
DrCLos

Wow... that song in the montage was really annoying.

lonewolf_dx
lonewolf_dx

M$ just focus on us Americans where the love of the 360 is big, but get them Jap games coming here.

axia_777
axia_777

It will still fail in Japan. They could sel it for $50 YEN and it would FAIL. iI is too bad really, but on well....

CyphenX
CyphenX

The Japanese market is notorious for being very un-accepting of foreign stuff (with a few quite noteable exceptions). While Microsoft clearly won't steal Japan from Sony or Nintendo, it looks like it just might be able to get a foothold and be a thorn in their side. And then, it will grow.

Pablo620
Pablo620

They said the best is yet to come for 360 in Japan. What are they going to sell 5 consoles

Fallout_red
Fallout_red

Blue Dragoon is stupidly childsih and DOAExtreme 2... is not a real game ... But THE LOST ODYSSEY, It MORE than a killer app. ITS FUTURE, the ultimate super game. Watch out Sony. Watch out FFXIII.

Terami
Terami

I'm a 360 owner. I think the system is great overall but dispite what some have said, it is the games that are lacking for the Japanese market. Sure the size of the original Xbox was considered too big but honestly, the system really lacked the games for the Japanese market. The Xbox was filled to the gills with FPS games and I know even many American's are getting sick of the number of games in that genre. The same can't be said for the 360 how ever. There isn't a ton of FPS games on the system. The system isn't huge but isn't small either. PS3 is huge and if you went by last gen's excuse of being too big, PS3 should flop in Japan big time. But reality tells me nope, it's all about the games. At least some of the Japanese developers are showing more product on the system now and it's showing some promise in Japan. BUT, I really think the Wii will be the top system regardless what Sony or MS do anywhere in the world. Just like the DS, it has that magical appeal that will bring people both new and old to games.

thepeter
thepeter

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Squids-Ahoy
Squids-Ahoy

Definitley has a better line up than the original Xbox. It'll be interesting to see how support develops based on the increased development by Japanese companies for the platform.

SuperbGamer
SuperbGamer

I knew Microsoft wouldn't be left out in the Tokyo Game Show!

Chainblast
Chainblast

It may come as a shock to some people, but not everyone likes the FPS genre. Maybe X360 would be more of a success in Japan if the system was so bloated with those types of games.

kingcow2064
kingcow2064

im sorry ms but its too late for japan. Sony has their semi electrical iron fist over it and there isnt a chance for anyone to get in. Just make RE5 360 only and they will beg for you before the end....hahahahahaahahaahahahah(cough cough falls on floor dieing of maniacle laughter) RE5!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ninjajuggalo810
ninjajuggalo810

with the size andbeing american tis gonna take a long time bofore they can compete in japan and they want to take over the generation their dreaming

Kwzy
Kwzy

Iam American and I don't trust in MS Xbox 360... so, imagine the japaneses!

JaMeS4418
JaMeS4418

doesn't seem like a very japanese system. And i thought the ballroom in the basement was hillarious