Kinect Launches In Japan And Doesn't Connect With Players

After going on sale earlier this month in North America, Kinect finally launched in Japan. How'd it go? Just like you'd think.

There was at least one long line for Kinect, which is good news. Why is it good news? Because if Kinect is successful in Japan, hopefully that means more Japanese developers will make software for it.

If Kinect isn't successful, that means Japanese developers could be at a disadvantage, because the product looks like it is going to be a hit worldwide, putting Japanese game companies in the position of trying to figure out what players outside the country want to play on Kinect.

The real difficulty Microsoft has in Japan with Kinect is the install base. For many consumers, buying Kinect means buying an Xbox 360. In the West, where the install base is high, consumers can purchase Kinect to enrich their Xbox 360 experience.

At electronics stores and toy shops, there were clear notices on windows for customers lining up for the Kamen Rider toys going on sale on November 20. At the stores that carry Kinect, there weren't such notices — it's as if Japanese retail has given up. That's a shame, because Kinect seems to be a truly interesting product.

The surprising thing was how the Kinect displays were set up. In some stores, such as where Microsoft held the Kinect launch in Akihabara, there were obvious Kinect displays, and consumers could easily find the product.

In other stores, such as a very large electronics store in North Osaka, there were only Kinect pamphlets in the bottom row of the Kinect aisle. Consumers had to ask at the counter if the store had Kinect in store — something that doesn't exactly make for easy shopping — and clerks then had look in the stock room. Several clerks I asked weren't even quite sure what Kinect was and had to check with their supervisors.

Even though the Japanese Kinect launch looks like a bit of a bust compared to the Times Square blow out, it probably will move more consoles in the weekly hardware sales charts and, who knows, maybe it'll catch on via word of mouth. While Microsoft gauges hardware sales in North America in the millions, it gauges them in the thousands in Japan. Every little bit helps.

はちま起稿, Famitsu, Getty

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    I checked out the Kinect and Move displays at Bic Camera in Namba, Osaka on the night of the launch and there was defiantly more interest in Kinect than Move (see link for pic).

    I'm not saying that Kinect will sell a lot, but speaking with people I found that they were interested, but did have concerns about space, etc.

    At Bic Camera they have Microsoft assistants to provide information to customers and were even giving away free gifts to anyone who stepped up and had a go.

      Never been to Japan myself but I get the impression there are very few homes with the kind of open space kinect needs.
      Is this indeed the case and would you say that it will have a large impact on sales there?

        Maybe they see beyond M$'s advertising campaign where Americans don't? The space excuse isn't holding up.

        "Japanese people probbaly live in coccoons or shoeboxes"

        Is this the same reason they don't buy 360s? They won't have the room for the boxes of dead consoles on the constant to and fro' to be repaired by M$?

        Japanese people seem to have better taste than these Kinect games. Kinect sales exemplify a casual market who'll enjoy a stationary game, kicking or hitting objects.

        Advertise anything in the USA and people'll be head over heels for it: Apple...Kinect...

    This reads like it was written by a MS employee. 'Every little bit helps'?

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