Phil Spencer: Xbox Isn't Big in Japan Because Japanese Prefer Japanese Games

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Phil Spencer: Xbox Isn't Big in Japan Because Japanese Prefer Japanese Games

Xbox One console

Phil Spencer says that the Xbox just doesn't have the kind of games Japanese gamers want to play.

Almost no-one will argue that the Xbox hasn't been a failure in Japan. The original console and the 360 never picked up any steam in the region, and the PS4 is outselling the Xbox One at a rate of 10 to 1. Why did this happen? There are a lot of explanations, but Xbox boss himself Phil Spencer says that it's primarily about the games.

"A lot of Japanese gamers really seem to like games such as Persona 5 or Nioh," said Spencer in an interview with Play-Asia. "If we plan on doing better in the Japanese game market we want to release games that the average Japanese gamer will really enjoy."

Spencer hasn't given up on the region however, and said "We plan to talk with many other developers in order to bring more games to the Japanese market, we were happy to announce Final Fantasy XV on the Xbox One which made me extremely happy and as mentioned we plan on a lot more connections!"

As well as the lack of games Japanese gamers want to play, there are plenty of other explanations for the Xbox's failure in the region. The most superficial one is that in Japan, X is the symbol used to mean "bad" or "incorrect" (hence why the O and X buttons are reversed on Japanese PlayStations). Others, such as Japanese distrust of foreign electronics (which seems to be turning around due to the iPhone) and western games (there's an old Japanese saying that basically translates to "western game is shit game") have also no doubt contributed.

There's also the rapidly shrinking console market in Japan, which barley has enough room for the two Japanese consoles (Wii U and PS4), let alone a third one.

Will the Xbox brand ever be popular in Japan? What do you guys think?

Source: PlayAsia

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Well, yeah. That's kind of clear.
Though I'm not sure why, but the only American game that Japan loves right now is Destiny

Nah, I think they just love good games. What does Xbox even have going for it that's exclusive?

Historically the Japanese have always been slow to accept foreigners and foreign things. The Mongols wanted to go there to kill them, then white people brought guns and upset the balance of their nation, then a long time later the US sent someone who basically said "Trade with us or we'll level your whole harbor", given that history it's understandable.

Is there a reason Microsoft doesn't have a Japan-based development house?

I mean, the easiest way to make games the Japanese would like would be to hire some Japanese developers, hand them a check and say "Go nuts!".

They've done it before, with Mistwalker, and as I recall, the games they put out (Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon) were actually pretty good. What's stopping them from doing it again?

This is such a giant load of bullsh*% that I find it hilarious. They don't like the Xbox because of the games, they don't like the console because right from the bloody start Microsoft screwed up. There was an article written a long while back by one of the individuals in charge of helping Microsoft market and release the Xbox 360 in Japan. Things were going well at the start, but Microsoft started pushing an "Amurica! F%#€ Yeah!" rhetoric that they were warned wouldn't be taken all that well... So of course they doubled down on it, began ignoring complaints and worries, and kept shoving their big crappy box of a console down their throats...

And then immediately cried foul when it wasn't popular. They had TWO games right near launch that were developed by "Japanese game" powerhouses, but that isn't going to keep a solid lead turd from sinking in the muck.

I have a 360, it's a decent system, but between them cheaping out on parts (see red ring of death) and how they generally tried to shove themselves into a market rather than work with it, it's going to fail.

And again, that's not even touching on the laziness of his excuse. "They have Persona and Nioh, so of course they want those games'. Really? Ignoring the fact that the former title has a strong following in the West as well, and the latter is shaping up as something similar to Demon's Souls (which, if he could be arsed to remember, blew up in popularity here when it wasn't expected to do so) and its ilk, it's more like "people like great games". Shooters are a dime a dozen, and while the more nuanced ones tend to be favored a little more, diversity helps. There hasn't been a single exclusive for the Xbox One that I couldn't get elsewhere. The closest they had was Phantom Dust, and they managed to crap the bed on that one already. And then he wants to act like he deserves a pat on the back for getting FF15? No, that was a given to begin with. Square needs the game to sell strong to make up for the lengthy development cycle, it's not thanks to some inherit advantage the One has over the other.

Pro-Tip: if Monster Hunter and Final Fantasy 11, along with countless extras tossed in couldn't sell your system in the very country where those games reigned as kings? You failed. Plain and simple. Quit while you're ahead and stop embarrassing yourself.

When people here talk about how Nintendo is failing and going to have to be a third-party developer because of lack of sales here, I have to imagine people in Japan saying the same thing about Xbox.

I would say it's a failure of marketing Phil and you (and by you I mean Microsoft) only have your self to blame for that.

Klagermeister:
Well, yeah. That's kind of clear.
Though I'm not sure why, but the only American game that Japan loves right now is Destiny

because it, like warframe, is needlessly complicated sci fi ish trash with glowy things

nothing wrong with liking it though lol

"(there's an old Japanese saying that basically translates to "western game is shit game")"

Well it's good to know that there's obnoxious people in Japan as well in regards to points of origin for media.

Yeah, the thing that resulted in lost odyssey, do that again.

Hawki:
"(there's an old Japanese saying that basically translates to "western game is shit game")"

Well it's good to know that there's obnoxious people in Japan as well in regards to points of origin for media.

Maybe if the world were more accepting of Japanese games, which usually involve girls of a very young but indeterminate age in sexually suggestive situations, we too would feel as they do.

Fox12:
What does Xbox even have going for it that's exclusive?

There's Gears of Wa...oh, no wait. That's on PC too.

Hmm. Oh! There's Quantum Bre...no, hold on. That's also on PC.

There's the upcoming Halo Wa...damn it. No, that's coming to PC as well.

I suppose we could go with one of the Dead Ris...shit, those are on PC.

Titanfall 1 was a good exclu...oh, that's right. I played that on PC via Origin. Never mind.

I guess there's Tomb Rai...oops. I forgot that was only a timed exclusive.

Surely ReCore is a quality exclu....never mind.

Yeah, I got nothing. Crackdown 3, maybe? Sunset Overdrive? Halo 4 and onwards?

I dunno. A number of those either are, or are likely to, make their way to PC anyway, so beats me what the Xbone has going for it now.

:/

Hawki:
"(there's an old Japanese saying that basically translates to "western game is shit game")"

Well it's good to know that there's obnoxious people in Japan as well in regards to points of origin for media.

Im yet to see a single, quality, creepy dating sim come from a western developer. It's like they're not even trying!

Uhmmmmm, didn't the 360 launch with a whole bunch of Japanese titles, like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, and it still floundered? I think you're gonna have to come to terms with the fact that Japan just doesn't like your console no matter what's on it. I don't know, maybe they just have something against the letter X.

bjj hero:

Hawki:
"(there's an old Japanese saying that basically translates to "western game is shit game")"

Well it's good to know that there's obnoxious people in Japan as well in regards to points of origin for media.

Im yet to see a single, quality, creepy dating sim come from a western developer. It's like they're not even trying!

Does Katawa Shoujo count? That's a western made dating-sim, but I'm not sure if it has sufficient creep factor: none of the girls are even tangentially related to the protagonist :p

SlumlordThanatos:
Is there a reason Microsoft doesn't have a Japan-based development house?

I mean, the easiest way to make games the Japanese would like would be to hire some Japanese developers, hand them a check and say "Go nuts!".

They've done it before, with Mistwalker, and as I recall, the games they put out (Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon) were actually pretty good. What's stopping them from doing it again?

Those games sadly didn't sell very well with the Japanese audience, at least not as well as they were hoping. Plus, this was right around the time that Western RPGs were really coming into their own on home console. I think the only JRPG that really moved systems in Japan was Tales of Vesperia, which was exclusive at the time, but also pretty early on in the system's life cycle. Reception was decent but I think it just wasn't enough for them to want to try any further. The Xbox has seemed to move away from JRPGs except Final Fantasy ever since, while Playstation is obviously where it's at these days if JRPGs are your thing.

Yes, regions are said to have different interest in game types. And platforms have different portfolo that make them a better or worse match. Xbox has a lot of shooters and is pretty popular in the US. PC has the most simulation type games and seems to be the preferred platform in middle and eastern Europe. (PC has most of the things Xbox has too but only because the OS and architecture are so similar and the most important difficulty from porting from Xbox to PC seem to be controls). PS has the largest variety of JRPGs and VNs and is far more popular in Japan.

I don't know, how PC fares in Japan. But that with PS and PC together you will have nearly every non-Nintendo game out there (and emulators for those) also is something that hurts Xbox a lot.

Klagermeister:
Well, yeah. That's kind of clear.
Though I'm not sure why, but the only American game that Japan loves right now is Destiny

Because aside from all the characters being teenagers, it is an anime game.

You're a nobody on a quest to save the world, you have a 'magical' sidekick, and there's alien and robot chicks you kinda want to band.

The head of Xbox is saying that "a lack of Japanese games is why the Xbox is failing in Japan".

Is this really news to anyone? Has that not been the case since the original Xbox's days?

Regarding what ?$ should do: beats me. The current gen console with the best sales in Japan is the Wii U, and that says more about how well the console as a concept sales in Japan than it does about how well the Wii U is selling. With limited living spaces and a well developed mass transportation system the Japanese has to a large extent already turned mobile in their gaming platforms of choice. Having a huge chunk of their living space taken over by a big, dumb foreign piece of hardware is probably a hard sell.

It was also my understanding that the Final Fantasy series sell better internationally than in its native Japan, so I am a bit doubtful that "You can play Final Fantasy on our machine" is such a big sell over there. In particular if it is coming to the PS4 as well.

Nothing about this seems new.

image

Bedinsis:
Regarding what ?$ should do: beats me. The current gen console with the best sales in Japan is the Wii U, and that says more about how well the console as a concept sales in Japan than it does about how well the Wii U is selling.

http://wiiudaily.com/2016/09/ps4-surpasses-wii-u-in-lifetime-sales-in-japan/

Not sure how much things have changed over the past three weeks, but yeah, there it is.

OT: I can imagine that the Japanese don't take very kindly to a foreign company coming into their market and holding games hostage on their platform, that level of arrogance doesn't go by smoothly with them.
I'm talking their exclusivity deals on Monster Hunter and Tales of whatchamacallit kind of things, these things don't make people want to buy their console, it makes them want to spit on it.

Saelune:
When people here talk about how Nintendo is failing and going to have to be a third-party developer because of lack of sales here, I have to imagine people in Japan saying the same thing about Xbox.

Well, probably not. Nintendo's problem is that almost nobody bought the Wii U globally, including Japan. Sold a bit less than the Gamecube isn't exactly a statistic to write home about. It's a pretty spectacular fall from the Wii as well, Nintendo can't really afford to have the NX do the same.

Xbox however has never been a factor in Japan, Microsoft barely pays attention to that market except to complain that none of them buy Xboxes. Despite that the Xbone is doing fine elsewhere, not great, not terrible, but fine. The Xbone S and price drops seem to have helped lately too.

Hawki:
"(there's an old Japanese saying that basically translates to "western game is shit game")"

Well it's good to know that there's obnoxious people in Japan as well in regards to points of origin for media.

I can cite a case where a beloved manga waifu was revealed to have previously had a boyfriend... and the fans went mental, claiming they had been betrayed, describing her as 'used goods' and destroying their manga collection in protest.

So, yeah. Plenty of oddballs there to side-eye.

bluegate:
http://wiiudaily.com/2016/09/ps4-surpasses-wii-u-in-lifetime-sales-in-japan/

Not sure how much things have changed over the past three weeks, but yeah, there it is.

Oh, the PS4 has taken over again? I didn't know that, thanks for genuinely good information.

I mean I heard those (now incorrect) numbers a couple months ago and had a "Wait, what? Really?" reaction in regards to how things are going in Japan, but if the numbers no longer say that I'll have to look more into it.

There's nothing wrong with a local Western company supporting local Western games for local people Western gamers. I don't see why MS even feels it has to pay lip service to the idea of trying to build support over there. It's a culture clash, and there's nowt wrong with it - I've never bought a Japanese system and I don't see that ever changing. Horses for courses, and all that.

Xbox is doing pretty well now, but the Mattrick start was catastrophically, commercially-suicidally idiotic. It came across like some kind of grand surrealistic art project... It may hopefully still improve in the UK and US, but that start still massively hurt them on 'home' turf. It makes sense such a bizarre launch went down even worse in a market that's never quite clicked with your IP's. Tumbleweeds lining up around the block at launch seems a logical consequence.

bjj hero:

Im yet to see a single, quality, creepy dating sim come from a western developer. It's like they're not even trying!

Been telling BioWare for a while that they should bite the bullet and double down on the Tali sweat fanbase already.

Gordon_4:

bjj hero:

Hawki:
"(there's an old Japanese saying that basically translates to "western game is shit game")"

Well it's good to know that there's obnoxious people in Japan as well in regards to points of origin for media.

Im yet to see a single, quality, creepy dating sim come from a western developer. It's like they're not even trying!

Does Katawa Shoujo count? That's a western made dating-sim, but I'm not sure if it has sufficient creep factor: none of the girls are even tangentially related to the protagonist :p

Also it's more soul destroyingly depressing/sad than creepy.

If Spence and the company do follow through on this, I don't see it as being a wasteful venture, but it's also not going to cause a noticeable shift in console sales over there. What MS does need, however, is there own "Cheap Trick at Budokan", or even something that's as notable as RWBY or Fiddler on the Roof.

09philj:

Gordon_4:

bjj hero:

Im yet to see a single, quality, creepy dating sim come from a western developer. It's like they're not even trying!

Does Katawa Shoujo count? That's a western made dating-sim, but I'm not sure if it has sufficient creep factor: none of the girls are even tangentially related to the protagonist :p

Also it's more soul destroyingly depressing/sad than creepy.

"Heartwarming" would be the word I would've used. Despite being a callous asshole most of the time, KS ran the entire gamut of emotions for me, and I want more. MORE, I tell you!

I mean, the only reasons I even stuck with it was because it was free and because it went out of its way to avoid anime cliches...which meant it avoided all of the things I hate most about anime. But I digress.

Sheo_Dagana:
Those games sadly didn't sell very well with the Japanese audience, at least not as well as they were hoping. Plus, this was right around the time that Western RPGs were really coming into their own on home console. I think the only JRPG that really moved systems in Japan was Tales of Vesperia, which was exclusive at the time, but also pretty early on in the system's life cycle. Reception was decent but I think it just wasn't enough for them to want to try any further. The Xbox has seemed to move away from JRPGs except Final Fantasy ever since, while Playstation is obviously where it's at these days if JRPGs are your thing.

Since the market in Japan is already saturated, they're gonna have to put in way more effort than a handful of games if they want to break in.

One exclusive and two new IPs just doesn't cut it. If they want to move consoles in Japan, they need to branch out. Japanese gamers play games other than just JRPGs, and they tend to avoid shooters. They need to keep this in mind if they really want to try again.

"western game is shit game"
It was true once upon a time.

Now, and for many years already, the complete opposite is true. Most (with few exceptions) Japanese games these days are pure, undiluted crap.

SlumlordThanatos:

09philj:

Gordon_4:

Does Katawa Shoujo count? That's a western made dating-sim, but I'm not sure if it has sufficient creep factor: none of the girls are even tangentially related to the protagonist :p

Also it's more soul destroyingly depressing/sad than creepy.

"Heartwarming" would be the word I would've used. Despite being a callous asshole most of the time, KS ran the entire gamut of emotions for me, and I want more. MORE, I tell you!

I mean, the only reasons I even stuck with it was because it was free and because it went out of its way to avoid anime cliches...which meant it avoided all of the things I hate most about anime. But I digress.

I essentially spent all the time from act two to the denouement of most of the routes in a state of total emotional breakdown. Fuck knows what would have happened had I gotten a bad ending. The writing is absolutely some of the best I've seen in a VN or game though. Unfortunately none of my IRL friends will play it. :C

SlumlordThanatos:

I essentially spent all the time from act two to the denouement of most of the routes in a state of total emotional breakdown. Fuck knows what would have happened had I gotten a bad ending. The writing is absolutely some of the best I've seen in a VN or game though. Unfortunately none of my IRL friends will play it. :C

Even Shizune's route? I mean, her dad is hilarious and Misha's circumstances are somewhat heartbreaking, but I could not find a reason to give a damn for hers. It took me a week to get through it simply because I couldn't be bothered to pay attention long enough to reach the end.

Yeah, it doesn't help that so many "X-box Exclusives" are now available on PC, Windows 10, Steam, or origin. No complaints here though! Naturally I think everyone should make their games available on PC so I don't need to ever buy another console.

I'm going back to the original Xbox's planning for this one:
Japanese advisors: "You can't make a console black, because japaense people such color and you can't have an X on it, because that means bad luck"
Microsoft: "Screw that, we do whatever we want with OUR CONSOLE"
And the rest is history.

The moral of the story is Microsoft simply does not care about Japan, I heard from many places that games like the third person western action adventure like Uncharted and WRPGS like Fallout sell like hotcakes there, either I am missing something or they just don't care.

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