Why Xbox failed in Japan

Wesley Yin-Poole for Eurogamer:

Gates’ star turn at the Tokyo Game Show was supposed to show the Japanese game industry that Microsoft was serious about getting into the console business. Gates, one of the most famous people in the world, one of the most respected businessmen ever, had taken the time to make sure Japan felt important.

But all didn’t go according to plan.

A fascinating inside look at Microsoft’s failure to gain much traction in the Japanese video game market, first with the original Xbox and then, later, with the Xbox 360.



  • Mother Hydra

    I can answer that- they didn’t respect the huge differences between the Japanese and American markets with regard to mindset. They went into Japan guns a-blazin’ and I believe this offended many in the game industry over there. The supplied ad of Gates holding a cheeseburger and an xbox controller really drives home the nature of their cluelessness about how to approach the gamer and the developer audience. They ostracized both early on. I remember the Tokyo Game Show in ’08, the MS booth couldn’t keep people, meanwhile another formulaic PS3 JRPG had a line down the hall full of people waiting to play. I’d argue the only thing that got any traction from Microsoft that whole show was a SEGA title, and Sonic at that.

    • Peter Cohen

      “I can answer that- they didn’t respect the huge differences between the Japanese and American markets with regard to mindset.”

      That point is made in the article, which goes much deeper to explain the way that Microsoft also struggled with significant differences in the way business relationships are managed, marketing and more.

  • http://twitter.com/billyrazzle Billy Razzle

    Microsoft isn’t a Japanese company. They don’t stand a chance in Japan in a Japanese dominated industry. Simple as that.

    • EVula

      Just to play devil’s advocate, change “Microsoft” to “Apple” and you have what people said about the iPhone being a dud in Japan. That has not panned out.

      • http://twitter.com/billyrazzle Billy Razzle

        Except I’m explaining, not predicting.

        • EVula

          Hah! That is indeed a VERY important distinction.

          • http://twitter.com/billyrazzle Billy Razzle

            Hopefully Microsoft can do better with the neXtBox. They need to create an amazing RPG exclusive to the Xbox and market it all over Japan. Make it the “Halo” of the next generation Xbox. Then maybe they could take over Japan.