Looks Like Microsoft Is Finally Giving Up on Xbox in JapanMICROSOFT WILL SKIP this year’s Tokyo Game Show in September, reports Japanese game mag Famitsu.
While it didn’t give a reason, abysmal Xbox One sales are surely the culprit. The company’s flagship console launched in Japan like a scud last September, and calling its progress “torpid” would be a kindness: Last week, Xbox One sold a laughable 149 units in Japan, compared to 15,000 PlayStation 4s and 10,000 Wii Us.
Xbox sales in Japan have been an albatross for Microsoft since the brand’s inception. The original Xbox failed to crack half a million units total in Japan, and its massive efforts to recruit heavy-hitter Japanese game developers for Xbox 360 only boosted sales to 1.5 million. By contrast, Sony’s PlayStation 2 and 3 bagged over 27 million units in Japan cumulatively, and Nintendo’s Wii managed nearly 13 million.
In November 2014, longtime Xbox Japan honcho Takashi Sensui exited his post for a job at Microsoft HQ in Redmond.
Japanese home and portable console sales have been on the downswing since the mid-2000s, mostly because of mobile gaming’s arrival and meteoric ascent. But even if you factor out Japan’s mania for mobile games like Puzzle & Dragons, the disparity between Microsoft and its devoted console-making rivals is stark enough to make you wonder why the company bothered with a Japanese Xbox One launch at all.
Is this what throwing in the towel looks like? Tokyo Game Show is the Eastern equivalent of our E3 Expo, but it’s also open to the public for half the show days. On its final day last year, it pulled over 100,000 people through its doors. Gamers around the world watch Tokyo Game Show coverage, too.
However doomed you want to assume the Xbox brand is in Japan, grabbing your ball and going home from the biggest marketing opportunity in the region only fuels the narrative that you’re done. Microsoft had flouted that narrative despite dismal sales for more than a decade, forklifting in gargantuan TGS booths year in, year out, and boatloads of Xbox games: the Xbox One’s 2014 TGS game showcase rivaled Sony’s PlayStation 4’s.
A little over a year ago, Xbox head Phil Spencer told GameSpot, “It’s critical for us in the industry that we continue to invest there and see great games come out.”
So much for that, then?