Microsoft crack Japan

The failure of the original Xbox in Japan was something that many people used to beat Microsoft with. And the 360 didn’t seem to be doing better, so the derision continued. But Microsoft were steadfast and shrugged off all criticism saying that the Japanese market was a long game. How they must be smiling now, with queues in Tokyo to buy Xbox 360s and with major stores selling out. And it didn’t take rocket science to achieve this volte face.

What many people often forget is that this industry isn’t about processors and blu ray and all that technical stuff. It is about entertainment. This is something Hollywood never forgets and which we often do. So all Microsoft needed was a must have game for the Japanese market. And they needed it to be a platform exclusive. And Tales of Vesperia is that game.

Now you will tell me that one swallow doesn’t make a summer. So it is nice that Tales of Vesperia followed on the coat-tails of Soul Calibur IV which was a top ten hit for the 360 in Japan. And now, of course, all those Japanese gamers have got their shiny new 360s they aren’t going to limit themselves to just these two games. There are a lot of great 360 exclusives out there. And, of course there is Live, which is the best online gaming portal.

So the effect of Tales of Vesperia will be to lift the 360 to a higher sustained level in the market. And at this higher level, because of word of mouth and peer pressure, there will be far more organic growth. It is a step up and what Microsoft need in Japan is a series of similar incremental jumps, with the market continuing at a higher level after each one.

Sony and Nintendo won’t be quaking in their boots yet but this is a definite paradigm shift in the Japanese gaming market which adds further piquancy and interest to this generation of the console wars.


  1. “Now you will tell me that one swallow doesn’t make a summer”

    I was about to. But I would like some consistency in such appraisals. Some good PS3 sales on the back of a big software title don’t seem to raise any eyebrows. The Microsoft equivalent is favoured with a gushing “Microsoft crack Japan” article?

    I’ve seen good 360 sales in Japan before. Notably Blue Dragon (where Microsoft ticked all the boxes for success and Japan still resisted them) and, courtesy of Namco again, Ace Combat 6. The effect is not long-lasting and we’ve had enough instances of a good week of Japanese 360 sales to tell us not to get over excited because things may (and do) calm down pretty quickly.

    When Microsoft obtained Final Fantasy 13 I was impressed. When they and Square Enix mentioned it would come out in various combinations apart from “360 in Japan” I couldn’t believe it.

    Apparently, Japan isn’t that important any more. So I also have to wonder why it’s suddenly so significant when the 360 has a week of decent sales. Will it go back to being less significant when the 360 sales drop off again?

  2. If MGS4 couldn’t keep PS3 sales high for more than a month, Tales of Vesperia certainely won’t.

  3. Don’t forget Infinite Undiscovery, voted as one of the hottest titles this year the readers of Famitsu. X360 exclusive. Created by Tri-Ace and published by Square Enix. It arrives early September in Japan and is expected to have more impact on hardware sales than Tales of Vesperia

    In november you also have Last Remnant by Square Enix which is a timed exclusive and in early 2009 Tri-ace will release the next entry in the very popular Star Ocean – series, named Star Ocean : The Last Hope. Another Japanese RPG to be exclusive for the X360.

    So there is not just Tales of Vesperia. There are more games comming.

  4. It will be a good thing if Microsoft can manage to become more competitive with Sony and Nintendo in the international markets. However, I find it much more significant that the PS3 has been consistently outselling the X360 this year in North America than that the X360 managed to outsell the PS3 for a single week in Japan.

  5. Its nice to see the xbox doing well in japan i see it as the superior machine to playstation 3 i’ve always been a sony man i never owned the original xbox but since the 360 i’ve been blown away the online is great games are great and look great i know the reliability is a issue but microsoft have responded where as when my playstation 2 whent wrong many times it cost me £80 a time with sony so i hope the 360 prevails i thought the dreamcast was better than the playstation 2 but there was no support!

  6. Yep they have a nice string of titles lined up, and itd be great if raise the usebase to around a million. Also with the combination of these titles, they may move from 1.5k units to around 5k weekly. It may not be great, but its a decent amount.

    360 software sales in Japan arent completely non-existent, big titles there are selling quite a bit, and for the userbase, its a very high attach rate. Plenty of Japanese devs have jumped on board, imagine when the userbase hits around 1.5 million, thats a good presence.

    The only problem is, Blue Dragon pushed 200k 360s, but sold 80k first week with 45k 360s. It continued to sell at around 20k and so as mentioned hit 200k. With ToV, its sold 105k first week and 24k 360s. Thats good and bad. For starters the game sold more, yeah name helps, but BD had HUGE marketting. Unfortunately on the hardware side, its not as great, it sold half of what BD pushed. So the important question is sustainability, will that 24k mean its halfs to 12k and then into obscurity, or does the Tales name keep sales steady for a few more months before it goes back to normal? Well have to see

  7. Well Rodders, how bout you stop being sacarstic and admit that microsoft is actually doing something right in Japan….they’re stepping up and that needs some appraisals….Everybody likes to talk about Microsoft isn’t doing good in Japan and only gets their sales from the U.S….That’s a big DUHHHH!!!!! Xbox 360 is an American product…..Where as Nintendo and PS3 will do better in Japan, why? because they are products of the japanese market…..they know what their country likes…..just like Microsoft knows what America likes, they are new to the gaming industry so let them grow instead talking trash……God fanboys make me sick…..

  8. So Japanese consumers are going to start buying games they’re not interested in and using an online service which is completely impenetrable based on goodwill for a single RPG? Wasn’t that what Mistwalker’s games were supposed to do? And FFXI before that?

    MS need to deliver an ecosystem, not one-offs that appeal to genre fans. But they wrote Japan off years ago.

  9. PS3 outsells 360 in America, 360 outsells PS3 in Japan…
    Welcome to the twilight zone.


  10. Can’t see this as more than a blip. If there’s a thirst for JRPGs, there’s plenty coming month in and month out on the PS2. A JRPG experience is not going to be so dramatically improved on X360 that Japanese consumers will gamble on a foreign system with a known quality problem.

  11. Watch the PS3 fanboy denials cometh – lol. Is this a temporary ‘win’ for Microsoft? Certainly! …but oh what a win it is. It is no small feat to take on an in-house Japanese company on its own turf and reign supreme – even if it IS only for a week. Microsoft has defied critics by hanging in there and applying good business practices to win the day. They should be congratulated – and without having to disguise their console as a hi-def cinema device: the REAL reason to the PS3’s success (or is it BluRay’s?)

  12. One game is not how to deliver long term satisfaction and consumer loyalty. While this is certainly a good step forward (all be it a late one) for Microsoft I think they have a long way to go before they “crack” Japan.

  13. To be honest, this means nothing. The “Tales” series has never been this popular (Not even in Japan)… Which is to say that the Japanese are very desperate for RPGs, or JRPGs. It is a good step forward for MS, but not a leap. They need to feed the interest of the Japanese community, by licensing more JRPGs, in order to actually claim a victory. This in no way means that Sony or Nintendo are hurting, this may have made them flinch, but more than likely they have counter measures.

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