Microsoft Xbox is ready to invade Japan after years of failure


Microsoft Xbox recently showed up in the recent Tokyo Games Show. The efforts of the brand to secure the impregnable Japanese market are paying dividends.

According to head honcho Phil Spencer, Japan is the fastest-growing market for Microsoft Xbox. They are looking to go deeper, offering superb value and more games. The results come as the culmination of the work they did to entice Japanese gamers.

Xbox failed a lot in Japan

The history of Xbox in Japan is rife with failure. The previous platforms never caught on, with the Xbox 360 being the most successful. Even then, this “success” is not even close to their rivals’ position in the market.

Sony and Nintendo dominate the Japanese games market. Sony leads in the console market, with many local exclusives that never go outside Japan. The same is true with the Switch, which tried to capture the handheld and portable market.

Microsoft understood that to entice the Japanese market, they need a way to connect. The Japanese are supportive of their local industries, and sometimes to a fault. The company spent a pretty penny to create a culture of exclusive Japanese-made titles within Xbox.

Even then, the company wavered, and their position died out in the region. It’s not until recently that they were ready to reconnect with their Japanese audience.

Microsoft is building relationships with Japanese studios

In an extensive interview, CVP for Microsoft’s Gaming Ecosystem Sarah Bond notes they are building relationships with Japan. Rather than push for Japan-exclusives, they’re trying to connect with the local devs.

“Building those relationships, getting to spend time with Square Enix, Capcom, Koei Tecmo, is a big part of what my role is,” said Bond. “before this pandemic basically locked me in my basement for six months—I’d go twice a year and spend some real time with those folks.

“Seeing their games, playing games, seeing the stuff they’re working on, walking through the studios, but also to talk frankly about [Microsoft’s initiatives] for this next launch period. It was very clear to us out of the gate… that the Xbox One launch had layer after layer of missteps and, in particular, related to Japan, that we were not going to repeat.”

Now, the Microsoft Xbox brand is poised to create its own niche in Japan. They recently cut back on the price of the Series X and S in the region. This move resulted in an instant sellout in Japan, a first for Microsoft.

There are also rumors that the Microsoft Xbox brand is looking to reign in a Japanese dev studio. With the recent Zenimax deal, they can do anything they want right now. Any studio they get, whether it’s Sega or Capcom, would alter the landscape.


Featured image courtesy of Tokyo Game Show/Youtube Screenshot


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