Even without the secondary addition of sales figures backing up the evidence, it’s fairly common knowledge Microsoft has long had a problem breaking into the Japanese market. Where their major competitors in Sony and Nintendo manage to sell tens of thousands of hardware units per week (and still do), the Xbox is lucky to break triple digits in the same period with its own Xbox One along with the two recent iterations via the One S and One X.
Today, in an interview with MCV, president and CEO of NIS America (the North American publishing branch for Nippon Ichi Software) Takuro Yamashita, claims that Microsoft’s poor showing in the country is down to a severe lack of support and structure for the Japanese gaming market. “Honestly speaking, Microsoft’s approach to Japanese games hasn’t been very supportive,” Yamashita explains. “For Japanese games, there’s still a very niche element to them, no matter what it might be. Microsoft also has a minimum order quantity for their games, and their whole structure isn’t really geared toward niche games or smaller games like Japanese titles, so they’re not really supportive of Japanese games or developers.”
While the company haven’t ruled out ever making future titles for the platform ever again — pointing towards the surprise success of Disgaea 5 for Switch as an example of potential risks paying off — they do admit that the challenge for Xbox comes in the possible awareness and thus size of the market that may well make a Microsoft third-party game seem viable. It was only back in June at this year’s E3 that Xbox — with Phil Spencer leading the presentation — even devoted a portion of its time to promoting third-party, Japan-developed games like Dragonball FighterZ and Code Vein, for its platform. While not fully exclusive to the system, Microsoft it seems are indeed putting some level of effort into making the Xbox console an attractive forum for Japan-based developers.
Still, looking at this realistically, it may well seem that Xbox’s future endeavours in Japan are but a self-fulfilling prophecy; the lack of hardware sales in Japan meaning developers are put off creating content for the console…which in turn only makes the PS4 and Nintendo Switch even more viable platforms for both first and third-party games and Xbox, sadly, fairly non-existent in the Eastern regions of the world.