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The 360's Japanese Status Revisited 68

Posted by Zonk
from the hard-days dept.
Next Generation is reporting on more elements of the Xbox 360's presence in Japan. From the corporate side of things, the head of the Xbox division in Japan can be referred to as vaguely pessimistic. From the article: "Two RPGs from such a prolific fellow as Sakaguchi may strike a chord in Japan, but Microsoft will have to pull out even more tricks with the impending launch of the Wii and PS3, both of which Japan gamers favor over the Xbox brand. Right now, the Xbox 360 can't even make any headway sans next-gen competition. 'Globally we are doing very well but Japan has always been tough,' Huston admitted. 'We launched early and with not enough Japan-specific content.'" They're also running an article looking deeper into the situation, an examination from an outsider's perspective. From that article: "Mr. Huston has also commented that the 360 'launched early,' which is true in many senses of the word -- they launched before all their competitors, they launched early into the popularity of high-definition televisions in Japan, and they launched earlier than any good games. It was widely believed by Microsoft Japan that Dead or Alive 4 would save the system at launch, though really, how naive is that?"
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The 360's Japanese Status Revisited

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  • by Antiochius (959975) on Friday July 14, 2006 @02:28PM (#15720651) Journal
    What Xbox360 presence in Japan?
  • by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday July 14, 2006 @02:35PM (#15720681)
    These stories about the Xbox360's chances in Japan are like exhuming a body just to confirm that it's still dead.

    All the defibrillation in the world won't bring that sucker back to life.
    • But defibrillation is so much fun!


      All they have to do to make XBox 360 is Japan is bundle Duke Nukem Forever... oh wait.

    • They do Say any press is good press, but damn. [joystiq.com] The 360 sold less than 2000 units, and the original X-Box sold 8. EIGHT!?!?!

      If you sell fewer than 10 systems across the country for a week they should post the people's names that bought them too.

      • No need for that. Those are all foreigners. I saw _ONE_ japanese guy buy Burnout for xbox, but perhaps he lived half is life in the US. The rest are foreigners (like me) who take advantage of the cheap xbox price in Japan and the fact the hong kong ordered games in english are damn cheap.
        • Just joking. If you are a foreigner in Japan, and buying X-box because it a) suits your needs, and b) is cheap I can very much understand it. (The X-Box, has been the same price as the PS2 for most of it's life, and a much better value.)

          Maybe you can shed some light on how they're dropping the ball in Japan. Are they not making games that fit the Japanese tastes? Did they botch their marketing? or what? A number of Slashdot users assume it's 'Nationalism' and they don't buy X-box simply because it's Am

          • On the release date there were _NONE_. Not a single game that I would call a "typical japanese game". And thats RPG. Or Meacha/RPG. Now, which means, gazillion of ages later. They came out with one Mecha and one RPG. "oh wow". Well that will get none of those out from the back.

            In my opinion, because those who would have the side money, are not any more the ones who would buy and xbox if they already have a ps2. Most of them use their mobile phone for gameing. Second, those who are nerdy enought to perhaps b
            • So what should MS do different? They cant. They lost, like the PS3 will loose. Because none of those have new concepts. They are just "better graphics". No, that will not make anyone buy it. Not the masses. The masses will buy something like Wii. A system that has an innovation, and that makes fun. Yes, some nerds will get the PS3, and so on. But they wont make the cash come in.

              I think that you're wrong when you claim that the masses want innovation. I say that the masses want next gen graphics and the nex

      • wow that is pretty bad.

        It's getting beat by the original GBA (and that thing is a POS). The 360 is actually doing pretty well (much better then I thought it would be anyways).
  • by Pearson (953531) on Friday July 14, 2006 @02:39PM (#15720708)
    It's so common for the Japanese consoles to be released in stages to the various markets of the world, that I don't understand why MS didn't withhold the system from that region until they had a compelling package.

    Being first to market doesn't guarantee success, and often allows your competitors to learn from your mistakes. Even if MS had a killer line up of Japanese games coming, they now have to fight against a negative perception.

    • exactly

      The one thing I couldn't understand is in all the interviews with higher ups involved with the Xbox line was they always said "The Xbox failed in japan because there wasn't enough Japan-centric games, nothing was made for that region. We have learned from this though and the Xbox 360 will have more Japan-centric games"

      So they launch worldwide and what is the selection of games japan has? All American & European centric games, not one that would appeal to the Japan crowd. Yet they kept pushi
      • Sakaguchi was personally involved in designing the first 6 Final Fantasy titles, and served as executive producer over a large portion of Square's PSX titles. If Microsoft was going to bet on somebody to save their system, it's hard to imagine a guy better than him.

        However, I agree with you that Microsoft counting on only this to save their system is a really stupid idea. Whatsmore, the Final Fantasy games generally lose to the Dragon Quest / Dragon Warrior ones in Japan. Microsoft needs to start listeni
        • "Microsoft needs to start listening to what their customers actually want instead of telling them what they should want."

          But it works so well just to tell them in America!
    • They already had to fight a negative perception before the 360 launched: the original xbox.

      Failing to release it in Japan would have left gamers with the impression that Microsoft wasn't commited to Japan. It would have been an insult to all of the Japaneese devs they've been courting to develop Japaneese content. And finally, they need every extra second of a lead they can get over Sony to establish some sort of presence in the Japaneese market.

    • Even if MS had a killer line up of Japanese games coming, they now have to fight against a negative perception.

      Whereas if they'd waited until they had a great lineup of (they thought) Japan-friendly titles, they'd have somehow been stiffing the Japanese market, and they'd have that negative perception to overcome.

      They were already in a hole. In order to get out of it they'd have had to try something different that would bring them back to the attention of potential buyers. They tried more of the same,

  • by The-Bus (138060) on Friday July 14, 2006 @02:47PM (#15720764)
    Let us for a minute forget that Microsoft's software lineup was less than thrilling. Let us also cast aside that the 360 is/was geared (mainly) towards FPSs and online gaming, neither of which are as big in Japan as they are here. Let's ignore that it was a console following up on the catastrophic failure (in Japan at least) that was the original Xbox.

    Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese. To put it in other terms, this is like asking why Toyotas don't sell better amongst American UAW union workers. Or why France doesn't have a major California wine festival. From my understanding of speaking with people who live(d) in Japan, there is a very big sense of nationalism with video games, more so than in any other country. The three superpowers of the last two decades, Sony, Sega and Nintendo, were all Japanese. It is almost offensive to suggest to a Japanese customer that Microsoft could do a better job than the homegrown heroes.

    Simply put, the deck was stacked against Microsoft from the very beginning.

    This is not to say that Microsoft is at a complete loss with the 360 in Japan, but certainly some of those resources could be better used at launching that console more strongly in other markets where this console xenophobia may not exist. Maybe India. Maybe it's China. Or Korea. Maybe it's another country. (Look at the estimated makeup of internet-connected Xbox 360 owners around the globe [fantasticdamage.com]). My guess is Blizzard is not focusing on Japan as WoW's third biggest market.

    It would take some amazing feat, like Zelda, Biohazard and Dragonquest all launching only on the next Xbox, for Microsoft to be anywhere near the top in Japan. That's not going to happen, so you need to focus your resources where they are best spent. And it's not Japan.

    If that seems depressing, think of the executives in Japan that can't seem to understand why dating sims and DOA-based patchinko games aren't automatic big sellers here. I don't think they're losing much sleep over it.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      The argument that the XBox does poorly in Japan simply because it is American is false and represents a gross misunderstanding of Japaneese culture; in fact in many ways it is American Culture is cool in Japan (in a similar way to how Japaneese culture is cool in North America). The problem is that the XBox is a system that is designed around the American Hard-Core gamer with the exclusion of all others; when you look at the line-up of games for the XBox you'll see mostly Racing games, First/Third person sh
    • by dancingmad (128588) on Friday July 14, 2006 @03:06PM (#15720891)
      Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese.

      That must be why the Sony MP3 player is trouncing Apple's iPod in Japan.

      Wait a second, no it's not. I'm really sick of armchair cultural studies. The entire time I lived in Japan, people picked items based on their percieved quality and/or hipness. I was in Japan for the Xbox360 launch - there was no reaction in Den Den Town. The thing is considered un-hip and bulky. Not because it's American, but because it sucks. The iPod is stylish. The Xbox360 is a lame copy of Apple style. Any Japanese with enough disposable income to pick them up (and I know, my girlfriend bought a nano and helped me buy a couple of DS Lites) would probably pick up on that and base some of their purchasing desicion around it. That's based on all the 20-somethings I knew.

      It wasn't that it wasn't American (do you think 10 year old kids care if the XBOX is American? They don't - they just know their favorite series is on the Nintendo DS or that all their friends have one).

      That doesn't mean all American products are treated the same way. Dells tend to sell, as well as the iPod and Apple's computers. Sony's MP3 player, on the other hand, is doing nearly as badly there as it is here. American movies, American TV shows, American books are all popular. But any time some half-baked American product fails to make a splash in Japan, it's because the Japanese have "contempt" (read: racism) towards it.
      • Any Japanese with enough disposable income to pick them up (and I know, my girlfriend bought a nano and helped me buy a couple of DS Lites)
        Does she have a sister?
      • Of course the parent is talking about video games and you're talking about portable digital audio players which last time i checked were not in fact video games.

        The ipods success in Japan versus the xbox's lack there of has to do with the fact that there has not been a historical dominance in portable mp3 players by japanese companies. Furthermore, there is nothing culturaly distinctive between a Japanese made mp3 player and an American one where as there are substancial differences between games made and p
        • The ipods success in Japan versus the xbox's lack there of has to do with the fact that there has not been a historical dominance in portable mp3 players by japanese companies.

          No, but Japanese have a long tradition of manufacturing audio products.

          But the real reason the iPod has been such a success is that Apple is more Japanese-y than Sony, in terms of industrial design. Jobs and Ives both get it.
        • Have you ever looked at the MSX? It was pretty successful in Japan, though not so much in the rest of the world. Bonus points for guessing what the "MS" stands for.
      • Your just flipping the discrimination around and positively discriminating based on the idea that the X-Box360 is crap, and the Japanese are far superior to everyone else at determining what is good and bad in technology.

        Thats as much crap as any cultural examination the previous poster made.

        I believe both of you are wrong. The first poster indicated his judgement is based on the fact the Japanese dislike America and therefore American products. You are suggesting the Japanese are superior in there judgemen
      • What makes you say that the Xbox 360 sucks? You state it as if it's a fact and not an opinion... I happen to own one, and I enjoy it all the time. (I just finished the hard levels in Marble Blast and I'm picking up Prey today.)

        You might be right that it's kind of a copy of the iPod style, but, then again, so are Sony laptops and I'm sure those are selling in Japan. My personal take is that the Xbox does poorly in Japan partly because it doesn't have (as much of) the type of game genres that are popular i
        • You might be right that it's kind of a copy of the iPod style, but, then again, so are Sony laptops and I'm sure those are selling in Japan.

          Only if the Japanese are even dumber than we are. Vaios are built like shit. They have nice bells and whistles but absolutely no durability and build quality that would make even apple laugh.

          We got a Vaio with a core duo and nvidia graphics in here and it failed after like two weeks. Pretty sad.

        • On the other hand, Harley Davidson, Japan [harley-davidson.co.jp] apparently has trouble keeping bikes in stock, despite being so much more expensive that domestic bikes and despite regulations that make it harder to be licensed to ride bigger bikes.

          It's probably one of those fanatic things, though, like how some sarimen collect golf gear but rarely, if ever, play 18 holes of golf.
        • Mate, I hate apple as much as the next guy, but comparing ipods to Sony laptops, that is just mean.
          • I said that they were a copy of the iPod *style*, not that they compare at all in terms of quality or anything else. You know, they use the same white plastic, and curved corners, and generally look iPod-ish.
      • One more thing (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gullevek (174152)
        Mobile phones. Most poeple tend to play this nowadays. The typical Otaku culture changed a bit. There no more super long queues for game releases or hardware releses, well there are, but they are far from what they were.

        And at the end, its all about the games. Why would anyone buy a new console, if he/she can get the same games for the PS2 which is already in their homes. Most of them are casual games, and none of them are online RPG playes.

        Third, the biggest craze in Japan are "brain train games". Both top
    • This is all simply an echo of a larger issue most American business had in the 80's - and one that is currently occuring again in China. The Big Three (Two) American Automakers couldn't complain louder about unfair practices that stimied auto sales in the Rising Sun, while Japanese cars couldn't lose market share if they tried in the US. All the while, it probably wouldn't have hurt Ford and Dodge to move the steering wheel to the other side and make their leviathan-sized autos just a _tad_ bit smaller.
    • by Pearson (953531)
      Interesting point, especially considering that Sega was started by Americans. That's probably too far back to influence popular opinions, of course.

      With regards to Microsoft's uphill battle in Japan, there is an interesting interview with Tom Kalinske [sega-16.com] (former head of Sega's US division) about how he managed Sega from only a 1% market share in the US to 50% in just 4 years. Perhaps MS can learn some tips. ;)
    • Or why France doesn't have a major California wine festival.

      California wines rank quite highly in contests held in France, and have for decades now. I know of at least three "sister city" relationships that celebrate the connection.

      Culture is nowhere near as simple as your ideas about contempt, and your stereotypes are inaccurate as far as my own experiences go. My experience of French people (Parisians mostly) is that they're by and large extremely soft-spoken, humorous, and unfailingly polite. (They

    • by JordanL (886154) <jordan.ledoux@gm ... l.com minus poet> on Friday July 14, 2006 @05:05PM (#15721690) Homepage
      I was going to mod you down, (-1, Troll), but I decided it would be more constructive, and more helpful to all the rest of slashdot, if I responded.

      Your assertions are both simplistic and false. Japan has no real bias against American technology firms, nor American companies in general. The American concept of "pop culture" dictates a lot of what is popular in Japan, and the Japanese have no hate for American driven culture in the public sense.

      Point and case: the iPod has been wildly successful in Japan, and is the number one selling MP3 player in Japan by a wide margin, despite the fact that Apple is VERY much an American company.

      The problem for Microsoft is two-fold:

      1. They don't understand the Japanese consumer. Japanese consumers are VERY different from American consumers. American consumers, more often than not, follow one of two basic buying templates: they buy based on hype, or they buy based on function. Japanese consumers, generally speaking, buy on these three principals, in this order: 1. Brand (has this company sold quality products in the past) 2. Form & Community (Will it look cool wearing it/Will I easily be able to use this with other people I know) 3. Function (Does it have all of the features I am looking for).

      Microsoft fails all three counts drastically with the 360, which brings me to the second problem for Microsoft.

      2. Microsoft faces a very negative connotation in Japan. Most Japanese people see Windows for what it is: a bulky, bloated, lazy piece of insecure code that isn't worth a fourth as much as Microsoft charges for it, and only survives because of strongarm techniques and an active monopoly.

      The Japanese people resent this; nearly as much as the average slashdotter.

      So the problem is not that American companies face negative connotations, it's that Microsoft does, and it doesn't help that Microsoft entered a field that where TWO other companies have all three important consumer points in Japan.

      So next time you see that the Japanese consumer passed by a display of 30 X360's to buy a DS, don't tag it to racism. Just cry more noob.
      • I think you should have stopped with your first point. Could it be you are projecting your own feeling towards MS with the second? I've been living here in Japan for the past 13 years and I simply don't see evidence of what you are saying. "Most Japanese people see Windows for what it is: (emphasis mine)". This may be true in the professional circles, but to be painfully honest, most home users...the kinds of people who would buy a XBox360 for their kids...are clueless newbies who have no idea of the sho
        • I was a little bit more zealous with the second point, and I think it caused me to miss the main focus of the second point: Micrsoft went into the original XBox with a bad brand, the first thing many Japanese consumers buy on. And unfortunately for Microsoft, the XB1 all but destroyed what brand they did have.

          It's important to point out though that from what I've heard, the few Japanese who did pick up the original XB enjoyed it, and highly recommended it.
    • Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese. To put it in other terms, this is like asking why Toyotas don't sell better amongst American UAW union workers. Or why France doesn't have a major California wine festival.

      Last time I looked, the Camry was the best-selling car in America, and a Californian wine took best of show at a majo

    • Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese.

      Replace "American" with "Microsoft" and this sentence might be more in tune with reality. Heck, I'm not Japanese, and I feel the same way as they do about the X-Box360. Huge controller with tiny buttons aside, my problem wasn't with the technological side of the console. I just didn't li

    • "the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese."

      "Contempt?" If there were contempt against American products or American culture, they wouldn't be giving us all these humorous Engrish phrases; you know, the ones they try to use to seem more American, because they think acting like an American is cool?

      "To put it in other terms, this is like asking why Toyotas don't sell better amongst American UAW union workers."

      Employee discounts?

      "Or why France doesn't have a major California wi
    • The three superpowers of the last two decades, Sony, Sega and Nintendo, were all Japanese.
      Service Games, A.K.A. Sega, was from the U.S.
      It was a spin-off of some part of the army that was there to make stuff to entertain the troops.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday July 14, 2006 @02:57PM (#15720828)
    The 360 is a pretty nice platform, I've used it a bit - but the reason I am relunctant to buy one is the same reason I'm pretty set on buying a PS3 (and a Wii) - Japanese game makers. A lot of the stuff I have enjoyed the most on a console is really the stuff that comes from Japan.

    The PS3 is looking even better in that regard as I believe the US and Japan are supposed to be in the same region as far as games go - no more chipping to play games from Japan directly.

    I don't know how, but Microsoft really needs to work much harder to get some Japanese studio support or they will have long-term problems in other countries, not just Japan.
    • The PS3 is looking even better in that regard as I believe the US and Japan are supposed to be in the same region as far as games go - no more chipping to play games from Japan directly.

      Yes, and for the price of a functional used car, you too can own one with a couple of games and a second controller! And maybe even a faux-burlwood faceplace! TEH WIN!

      • After sinking all that cash into my SLI gaming PC, all the consoles seem to cost about the same to me $600? That's just one video card
        • After sinking all that cash into my SLI gaming PC, all the consoles seem to cost about the same to me $600? That's just one video card

          Well, it's nice to have that kind of Disposable income - it's been a while for me, but I do remember. However, most people do not. You are in a teensy, tiny, almost statistically insignificant majority. Most people do not spend $1200 (plus the display!) just on graphics output.

          Shit, my whole super duper pooper scooper laptop system setup (HP Core Duo laptop with a 17"

      • I hate to break it to you, but looking at the 20 or so PS2 games I still have on my shelf, the money I spent on the console itself is negligable in the long run.

        If you're going to complain about a $100 price difference in consoles and that price difference is gone in two games, how many games are you planning to play? Three?

        Assuming you'll buy a dozen or more games for either system over the long run, the price difference isn't there -- its about quality. I think Sony's got it right; price it high for ear
        • On the other hand, Sony is totally unabased about the cost. Who says they'll lower it any time soon? They publically announced that "they" thought it was probably "too cheap". Well, I disagree, suckas. Also, it is about Quality. Quality is about fitness, which for me is based on longetivity and interoperability. Sony's record on hardware durability is horrible. Their record on interoperability is worse.

          Granted, I will probably buy one if there is a credible linux distribution... But then it's worth a lo

          • a) You do realize the PS3 runs Linux natively, right?
            b) I bought a later generation PS2 and it has lasted very well. Never buy initial releases of new hardware technology.
            c) I play dozens of games on my PS2 and its really amazing what can be done with 32MB of RAM.

            See: God of War, Black, etc.
            • You do realize the PS3 runs Linux natively, right?

              Yes. That doesn't mean they'll give us all the libraries that we need to actually utilize the hardware, just as they didn't on the PS2, which at least used Linux as the development system.

              I bought a later generation PS2 and it has lasted very well. Never buy initial releases of new hardware technology.

              Lots of PSTwos have died on people too, though. (I too have a PSTwo now.)

              I play dozens of games on my PS2 and its really amazing what can be done

  • MS dont get it. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Friday July 14, 2006 @03:04PM (#15720879) Journal
    MS doesn't get the Japanese market, they keep acting like 1 or 2 games is going to change the entire fate of a system.

    Best example is from 2channel a few months back, Bandai announced Gundam Gashapon wars. Featuring a truck load of fan favour robots which hadn't been seen in a game since the SNES era. The forum post had about 50 people going "I would of bought it, but it's on the gamecube so I'll pass" or bitching about it being on the gamecube.

    Japan doesn't like the Xbox, it doesn't matter what games they put on it, it just won't compete with the DS and the PS2 currently. When the PS3 comes out and the Wii, it will be the next Gamegear/Lynx/Your dead console of choice here.
    • "MS doesn't get the Japanese market, they keep acting like 1 or 2 games is going to change the entire fate of a system."

      Newsflash: Sony lures Final Fantasy VII away from the N64. Japanese consumers drop the Sega Saturn like a bad habit.
    • "they keep acting like 1 or 2 games is going to change the entire fate of a system"

      Yeah but you can see where they are coming from at least. I mean, just think what might have become of the Xbox had Halo never happened.
  • I think the 360 is doing poorly in Japan because of expectation. The Japanese consumers expect the 360 to have (more or less) the same content as the original Xbox. And so far, they've been right.

    Sure there are some great games coming up, but MS needs to convince them that this is not a "one off" thing. Sony's chief exec said that the PS3 is about potential, and he's right. When a gamer buys a console, they look for a system that will provide the desired experience now... and years down the road.

    I don

    • What is the PS3 really providing that the xbox isn't? They've got what might be the next home video format support and what appears to be a last minute tacked on motion sensor on the controler. Meanwhile the 360 has Live.

      I'll allow that I might be missing something but I really don't see any of this "potential" that you're refering to in the PS3 above and beyond the potential in the 360.
    • From what I've read, the Xbox wasn't particularly Japanese-friendly as many titles were released without any localization whatsoever. That's really moronic - especially coming from a company that's one of the leaders in localization in the software industry...

      People call the Japanese arrogant or racist for their insistance on wanting products localized into Japanese, yet would they purchase something that didn't include English instructions and had an English description on the packaging? Stupid double s
  • It was widely believed by Microsoft Japan that Dead or Alive 4 would save the system at launch, though really, how naive is that?

    Microsoft was almost right. Watch the Xbox360 sales go up a notch when Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 [tecmo.co.jp] is released. Go download [ign.com] the trailer, it's worth it.

    • And herein lies the problem. If Nintendo is actively targeting a diverse market of non-gamers, Microsoft is actively targetting a narrow slice of already-gamers. Chick-craved boys make of less of the market than they used to, and even plenty of those aren't willing to shell out 44,000 yen just to get a 360 and DOA. I remember that Microsoft at one point said they were going to make the 360 "less dependant on that sort of thing" than the last Xbox (the one that had a version in Japan that came with Kasumi
  • Let's take Yodobashi Camera in Kawaski. TV Gemu Floor. Xbox. Tow little shelves, filled with a lot of space and some games. No xbox game on the "new release table" in ages.

    PS2. Well at least more than half of the area. PSP, DS, Game Cube take rest. Tip of the hot game. On PSP and DS the top sellers are brain train games. I don't know for the PS2, but I guess some RPG. xbox 360, nobody cares.

    And know someting completly different. Get Loco Roco, that game kicks ass (PSP)

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