It took a full three months for the PlayStation 4 to make it home to Japanese shores, but what about its rival, the Xbox One? Try 10 months. Microsoft is making due on its promise not to give up in Japan and finally has a release date for its console on Sept. 4.
Followers of video games and game sales have come to expect that the Xbox brand does not do so well in the Japanese marketplace. Okay, no sugar coating this one, the console does downright awful in the Japanese market. The Xbox 360 has sold somewhere between 1.5-2 million units in the country, a small amount compared to the nearly 10 million its rival, the PlayStation 3, has sold over the same amount of time.
This time around doesn’t seem so different either. Microsoft had tried everything including picking up talented Japanese game designers to make exclusive games, a tactic it is trying yet again. Already, the Xbox One is home to Crimson Dragon, D4, and another “awesome” Japanese developer. Along with the exclusives, plenty of Japanese giants have promised support for the console too including Square Enix, Konami, Capcom, SEGA, Atlus, Level-5, Nippon Ichi, Bandai Namco, From Software, Cave and Marvelous Entertainment.
The launch lineup in Japan doesn’t reflect a strong Japanese showing with games like Forza Motorsport 5, Kinect Sports Rivals, Sunset Overdrive, Halo on Xbox One, Dead Rising 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome highlighting the console. Might seem like a bit of an oversight, but the PlayStation 4 didn’t exactly have any great exclusive Japanese games either at launch, and it is doing pretty well out here.
Square Enix has also announced their line-up of games for the console with Call of Duty: Ghosts, Thief, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition and Murdered: Soul Suspect, another “great” showing of Japanese games.
Microsoft, and most of corporate America outside of Apple for that matter, have always struggled in getting Japan to dance to its tunes, and forcing Western games down its throat like this is not going to change that. Its gamers are savvy enough to find plenty of other outlets for other games they genuinely want, and the kids are not going to be swayed into the latest cover-based shooters when there is soccer to play, monsters to catch, and coins to collect from the palms of their hands.
Microsoft should know this by now, but it has to keep face by not abandoning the market. That’s the only reason I see the company still operating here.