Microsoft have had their success in most of the major regions in one form or another. While the Xbox One has stumbled, they’ve kept a solid foothold in America, and in the 360 years they were always competitive in Europe. However, the one major region they could never seem to crack: Japan. And Xbox head Phil Spencer knows that that is something that needs to be rectified, and hopes to fix it with the onset of next-gen.
In a long interview with Gametag Radio, Spencer talked frankly about Microsoft’s position in the land of the rising sun. He said that the position they’ve found themselves in the country is “unacceptable,” and acknowledged there’s been a lot of previous issues, such as a staggered launch, Japanese companies skipping the system, and not enough Xbox systems being available in the region.
“When I got into this job, the thing I was seeing was third-parties skipping Xbox One and not even shipping on the platform,” Spencer said. “To be fair there will still be examples of that and every one of them causes me pain, but the number one thing I wanted to do when I started in this role was to get back on the ground a couple of times a year playing with the studio heads, playing their games, and just making them know that I had a commitment to their global success.”
Spencer pledged that they’ll do better, pointing to the amount of Japanese games highlighted at last year’s E3, as well services like xCloud and Game Pass, which can expand to any region. He also said exclusives tailored to the Japanese region could be on the menu.
He said: “I think one of the outputs of that was just the number of Japanese-published games that we were able to show at E3, and I’ve been really proud of the way that we’ve built a partnership with almost all of the publishers there and had really great showing on our E3 stages, and yes those games are shipping on all platforms, but the fact that games that have never been on our stage were on our stage, then we started seeing games that have never been on our platform not only coming to the platform but being highlighted on our stage. That’s the journey that I’ve started.
“We’re gonna do a much better job with this next upcoming launch of not waiting ten months to launch in Japan like we did last time. We’re gonna make sure that our services like Game Pass and xCloud are there so people have access to them.
“I think what you’re asking about is can we have more home-grown first-party content that’s developed there. I’ll just say I think we can. I’m not announcing anything, but I think the Japanese market is specifically important because of the creative community there, because of the gamer community there, and I want Xbox to mean more there than it does today.”
We know that Spencer has been visiting Japan on several occasions to talk with Japanese publishers and developers, and has expressed interest in acquiring a Japanese studio in some capacity. Japan is something of a great white whale for Microsoft, a major catch that has always eluded them. We’ll just have to wait and see if the next generation can possibly be any different when it’s all said and done.