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Microsoft's Xbox ready for bigger battle in Japan


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How does MS expect to get anywhere in sales in this country when there is blatant manufacturer favoritism/discrimination everywhere you go.

I'm an avid 360 gamer but time and time again I've gone to the video game section of major electronic/department stores in and around Tokyo to find ZERO 360 products.

Classic Japan...

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I'm an avid 360 gamer but time and time again I've gone to the video game section of major electronic/department stores in and around Tokyo to find ZERO 360 products.

They only stock what sells. I'm not sure where you are going, anyway - Yodobashi, Bic, Yamada - all of them carry 360 hardware and software. The crappy little Yamada by me carries a bunch.

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Not only the poor selection, but damn games are expensive here. Also, why have they not made a 360 that is compatible for US, EU and Asia games. Yeah, some games will play on the JP 360, but I do not have to worry about playing US games on my PS3, though I rarely play it all.

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Don't buy 360 games in Japan, order the asian version from HK on the internet, play-asia comes to mind. It is a legit asian copy in english that is designed to only work on the Japanese version console. They are half the price and 100% legit from Microsoft.

Microsoft USA has alot to learn about the Japanese market, their marketing isn't exactly targetted to Japanese audiences, they throw alot of money at things sometimes but never really make anything stick.

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Hmmm not a fan of the xbox. Plus I saw that Kinect presentation a few weeks ago, horrible stuff. Playstation all the way baby.

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I love how these snarks never acknowledge Apple.

Anyways, the old Japanese xenophobia argument seems rather hasty as there are many more reasonable explanations for what you are seeing. First, as someone pointed out already, stores not promoting the system in light of its poor sales is hardly evidence for your claim. Were the British xenophobic when many retailers chose to forgo the Gamecube altogether? This is perhaps the worst evidence you could possibly use to suggest that Japanese nationalism is the cause for the 360's situation.

Moreover, the order of popularity in pretty much all regions besides North America is Wii > PS3 > 360. The 360 coming up last is hardly unusual and while there is a rather significant gulf between the 360 and its competitors, I think it can be explained away more reasonably with the following factors:

The 360's biggest draw this generation is probably its online infrastructure, something that is a relatively insignificant factor to Japanese gamers. I think this might also explain Microsoft's weak start in Japan relative to the other regions. The 360 attracted many developers with a PC-centric heritage which is essentially a non-factor in Japan. In a way, the Xbox was starting farther behind here than elsewhere. Its library is also unsuited for the Japanese market as it's lineup and marketing is FPS dominated, a genre that the Japanese do not like. Early on, Microsoft attempted to cultivate a jRPG fanbase but the inroads they made were limited at best and this early advantage disappeared once Microsoft gave up as multiplatform games from Japan seem to work better on the PS3 (FFXIII for example). Japan's lukewarm response to these efforts can be partially attributed to the unforeseen shift to handheld gaming; it's not just the 360 that is doing poorly but the entire console market. Also I think that in retrospect, the major exclusive RPGs seem a bit weak. Perhaps Hironobu Sakaguchi no longer had the draw that Microsoft was banking on (his games sell worse on the DS). The Last Remnant was a technical mess and Infinite Undiscovery was pretty bad. Tales of Vesperia was probably the best of these games but the Tales series is middle tier in terms of size at best.

Finally, Microsoft has made significant strides this time around so the situation really isn't as bleak as you seem to think it to be.

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FF13 was originally made for the PS3, until Microsoft handed Square-Enix a ton of money to also port it over to the 360. That's why it looks better on the PS3 (not just the PS3 is the more powerful machine).

Also, many Japanese game developers are concentrating on handhelds rather than consoles for financial reasons:

(1) It's cheaper to develop for handhelds than the graphics that make powerful consoles advantageous. Japanese developers usually don't get the big budgets and staffs that Western developers have.

(2) Usual J-games don't sell well in the broader Western market outside Japan, so they don't get back much money. And without enough return of investment, that goes back to #1 - smaller budgets.

Expect that to continue in the future, as consoles become even more powerful and thus game development increasingly becomes more expensive. Most J-game developers won't keep up with the budgets it takes to take advantage of the next generations' consoles' power.

It's ironic. Sony -- a Japanese company -- makes the most powerful game console so far; yet most Japanese game developers can't afford to take advantage of the power.

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360 is as dead as the original XBox was in Japan. A nearby Book Off from where i live has a boxed 360 + 3 racing games for 9999Yen. I might take them up on that offer.

I remember in 2003 the XBOX was selling less than Game Boy colors that were no longer being produced. They were selling approx 350 consoles a week in the whole of Japan. They are biased against forign gaming products in Japan. The Sinclair PC and Atari consoles lack of succss in 70s and 80s clearly shows this.

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If Microsoft thinks that they will penetrate the Japanese market with controlerless gaming, they've got another thought coming. It's not even a model that's ready to work for the western market yet, let alone Japanese, who can't rent games to try things out. You'd really, really need to create a series of games very catered to the Japanese market in order to sell them on Kinect. Stuff like Samurai fighting, family kumitaisou / radio calisthenics, fukuwarai for the family, etc. And that would just get the hobby game families who want novelty. It wouldn't attract the money gamers at all.

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I remember in 2003 the XBOX was selling less than Game Boy colors that were no longer being produced. They were selling approx 350 consoles a week in the whole of Japan. They are biased against forign gaming products in Japan. The Sinclair PC and Atari consoles lack of succss in 70s and 80s clearly shows this.

They are not. Sinclair, really? It sold like crap in the US, too - does that make the US biased against British electronics? The Atari 2800 was released late here and there were a bunch of other consoles already on the market at the time, that's why it wasn't a success.

As for the 360's disappointing start in Japan - did you SEE any of their original ads here? They wouldn't have sold in the US either with that ad campaign. Couple that with absurdly high failure rates and it's not a recipe for success.

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pestronika; Been in involved with gaming trade for decades, i know what hurdles and obstacles face foreign gaming firms in Japan. The Atari had no decent competition at the time, BES was a long way off and the othet Japanese firms made terrible copies that didn`t take off anywhere except Japan.

Please showhow Japanes forms are not biased. It is almost impossible for firms to release games in Japan without a Japanese "middleman" promoting.

Another example is the 3DO. Due to it being region free and and at first a 3 USD tariff placed on each soft unit sold, most Japanese companies refused to deal with the project, Bandai and Capcom an exception.

There is always bad publicity with foreign products that may rival Japanese. This has happened to both XBOX consoles in Japan and the reluctance of many wishing to promote them. XBOX will noy succeed even with Kinect, it is over priced and is using technology developed in 2006/7.

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stevecpfc; The console should say NES not BES.

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XBOX will noy succeed even with Kinect

I do not see how you say it will not succeed. If it sells, it will survive. I do agree that the Kinect is not going to help without there being targeted games for a Japanese audience or unless they have live demonstrations because this country does not let people rent games...I miss my gamefly.

As for it surviving longer, there is a strong group of Japanese 360 gamers, not as prominant as PS3 players, but with the release of Mo-han on the 360, it has seen a slight increase. But the bad thing is the stiputlations with it. You have to pay a subscription fee, just like for FFXI and Phantasy Star...can't remember the number (though now it is free). This is also speaking that you have to pay for Live, for the most part is enjoyable, but the price of Live is even being increased in the states. Not sure what MS is thinking, they know we are in a recession right?

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Microsoft really needs a credible hand held gaming devise. Kids with a DS go for the Wii, kids with a PSP, and there are some, get into a PlayStation.

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