TGS 2008: Microsoft's Schappert soldiers on in Japan

Despite the Xbox 360's limited success, corporate VP and Xbox Live chief says sales are increasing in the "very important" market.

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Microsoft may have experienced significant success with the 360 in Western markets, but Japan continues to be a tough market to crack. Despite being in the country for two years and winning the support of several high-profile Japanese developers, the 360 often lags behind the Nintendo Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3 in sales.

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But things are looking up for the 360, according to John Schappert, Microsoft corporate vice president and head of Live, software and studios. During a roundtable press briefing at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show, Schappert extolled the recent success of the 360 in the Japanese market, success which has directly stemmed from its recent price drop which made the 360 the cheapest current-gen console on the market.

"Frankly our biggest challenge right now is hardware availability. We've done so well that we are actually at a sold out situation in Japan. But we have more on the way every week," he told a group of reporters.

Schappert says Microsoft is still aiming to have a 1 million console installed base in Japan, but declined to give a firm target on when the company is hoping to achieve that. And when quizzed on whether all the time, effort, and money spent on wooing both Japanese consumers and developers has been worthwhile, Schappert was unequivocal in his response.

"Undoubtedly. I think what you see in Japan right now is the fruits of the labour of eight years' worth of cultivating relationships, forming those bonds, and working with these publishers. What they're happy about is that they've got a platform with the 360 that has great development tools at an affordable price point which allows them to go to the masses. So Japan is very important not only as a territory, but because of the games that come out of Japan," he said.

Schappert headed Microsoft's TGS keynote speech yesterday, unveiling the news that Tekken 6 was going multiplatform, fixing a date on the launch of the new Xbox Live, and confirming the existence of Halo 3: Recon. On the latter, Schappert would not be drawn on giving any more details on the newest adventure in the Halo universe, other than to say that it was indeed a stand-alone game and not simply a Halo 3 expansion.

Check out GameSpot's 2008 Tokyo Game Show page for more information.

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