The Xbox Series X will launch in Japan during the holiday season 2020 (that’s between October and December for our non-US readers) despite historically poor sales for the Xbox brand in the country.
Microsoft confirmed the console would launch at the same time as the rest of the world in a statement to the long-running Japanese video games magazine, Famitsu (opens in new tab) (thanks, VGC (opens in new tab)).
The Xbox One arrived in Japan 12 months after it launched in Western regions, which didn’t exactly scream that Microsoft cared much about the Japanese market.
To date, the Xbox One has captured just 0.3% of global sales in the region according to market research company IDC (opens in new tab), and Famitsu’s latest annual sales report for 2018 (opens in new tab) states that the beleaguered console shifted 15,339 units during the entire year. Compare this to Sony and Nintendo, which managed to sell 1.7 million PS4 consoles and 3.5 million units of the Nintendo Switch, and it’s grim reading for Microsoft.
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Microsoft isn't giving up, though. In an interview with Gamertag Radio (opens in new tab), Xbox boss Phil Spencer has acknowledged the company’s failures in the region, and has pledged to do “a much better job” with the Xbox Series X. Some analysts have called for Microsoft to pull out of Japan entirely, as they see it as an impossible hurdle for Microsoft to overcome, but Spencer said he remains committed to the region and hopes Xbox can “mean more than it does today” when Xbox Series X launches in Japan.
Microsoft has recently acquired more Japanese games for Xbox One fans to enjoy in the last few months. The Yakuza series has made its way to Xbox Game Pass, as well as Kingdom Hearts 3. Xbox One also got a number of Final Fantasy games, although it’s unclear when Final Fantasy 7 Remake will arrive on Microsoft’s platform.
Xbox in Japan
Xbox has consistently been overlooked by Japanese consumers and has made a number of missteps since the original Xbox released. Over the generations, though, Microsoft has invested in exclusive games like Dead or Alive 3, Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon in an attempt to broaden its player base beyond America and Europe.
Can Microsoft make it big in Japan, then? Early predictions would probably point to no, as the odds are certainly stacked against the company. But Phil Spencer’s continued commitment can only be admired, and if the Xbox Series X wants to get the same type of games that PS5 and Nintendo Switch will inevitably attract, having a presence in Japan is still an absolute must.
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