Microsoft On Japan: “We Learn From The Past”

Microsoft On Japan: “We Learn From The Past”

Let’s face it. Microsoft’s track record in Japan with the Xbox has not been good. In the past few years, Microsoft even stopped going to the Tokyo Game Show, but this year, the company is back.

At the virtual version of the show, at least.

In a pre-recorded message, exec Phil Spencer talked about Xbox and Japan, starting his presentation with a simple greeting in Japanese and adding that he looked forward to visiting players once again in Tokyo.

“Japan is a superpower in this industry with iconic characters and games that are highlights in the gaming histories of hundreds of millions of players across the globe,” Spencer said. “Yakuza, Metal Gear, Biohazard, Persona, Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and even more recently, the phenomenon of Animal Crossing.”

“Japan and its creators have shaped so much of the magic we expect when it’s time to play a game.”

Spencer went on to discuss how much Japan has influenced gaming across the world, including on Xbox fans and the Xbox team.

“As we bring games to more devices, more countries and more people, we hope to see more players than ever falling in love with stories and characters imagined in Japan.”

“Japan is our fastest-growing region worldwide,” he continued. “We learn from the past.” Thus, Microsoft will be launching its new hardware in Japan at the same time as the rest of the world.

“Since we launched Game Pass for both console and PC in Japan this past April, we’ve seen more players on Xbox devices, games and services than at any time in our history in the market.” Game Pass might finally be enough of a reason for more people in Japan to jump in. So far, things have certainly improved: as Spencer notes, Xbox gaming monthly users have increased 82 per cent year on year.

Sony is a formidable opponent, especially in Japan, and people need a very good reason to buy the console. Maybe the one-two punch of the lower priced Xbox Series S and Game Pass will entice more than in previous generations. Maybe not. This presentation, though, was the most bullish Xbox has sounded on Japan in a long, long time. 


  • The best thing they could possibly do is partner up with some Japanese studios and produce some unique IP’s on a game by game basis to build goodwill with the consumers, industry and investors.

    Giving their Japanese subsidiary more freedom to be the face of the region would also go a long away to building the brand recognition and reputation as well.

    • Didnt’t they do that with Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey and despite them both being pretty good games from memory, the X360 was still a failure..

      • Not exactly no.
        Back then MS was still stuck on the kinds aggressive, one sided strategies and practices that had harmed both companies globally.
        They didn’t work with anybody, took ownership and control of everything and refused to play nicely with local investors, studios and publishers.
        While riding high on their global success they expected too much, too soon and when it didn’t happen as quickly as they would’ve liked they basically gave up and threw away what little progress they had achieved.

        While we’ve seen MS make a lot of changes this generation it’s not something Japan has so while it’s good they are having another crack, it’s imperative they back their words up with careful action and focus on becoming a part of the Japanese scene rather than a disruptive force.

    • Honestly I feel like that’s a waste of money. Japan, and gamers in general, really turn their nose up at those sorts of attempts to win them over. It doesn’t really matter how good the game is it’s always ‘well, it was great, but it was [accomplished developer] cashing a cheque so it’s fine to skip it, they’ll make their real next game on the Playstation’. They can give a Japanese studio a fantastic budget and complete creative control and it’ll still be seen as a blatant attempt by a western company to mimic Japanese style.

      I think the only way they’re going to get a proper foothold in Japan is if they have an absolutely undeniable global success of a generation while also loosening up Playstation’s grip on lesser Japanese titles. Even then the second they slip they’ll go straight back to the bottom.

      Probably smarter to just try and normalise Japanese developers releasing on both XBOX and Playstation to wrestle away Japanese exclusives from Sony. Don’t abandon Japan, don’t try and force it, just recognise that the value is in increasing the diversity of content XBOX offers globally not in winning an unwinnable market.

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