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Why the Xbox 360 failed in Japan

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The Xbox 360 is a pretty capable console (or at least, it was), and has gone on to be the platform of choice for many gamers the world over. Except, of course, for Japan, where the console is considered to be a monumental failure. Why is that?

Former Capcom employee and Mega-man creator Keiji Inafune believe he may have the answer – and it’s the one we’ve all been saying for years; the Japanese are fiercely nationalistic, and don’t want an American console.

“Probably one of the reasons is because PlayStation is a domestic brand in Japan,” Inafune said in a chat with IGN. “As a Japanese [person], I think it’s only natural you feel closer or attached more to domestic products and I find myself being that way too. When you see two products with similar features and one is from your own country and the other is from foreign countries, it’s easy to pick the one from your own country.”

“From this perspective,” he concluded “Xbox is made by Microsoft in the US, so it’s not a domestic product. It’s only natural that you want to support your domestic products. If there were more Xbox-exclusive games out there, things may have been different, but usually a title is developed for multiple platforms so that’s not the case.”

Essentially, the Japanese are racist – but there’s probably more to it than that. Traditionally, the Xbox 360 has catered towards more Western games – i.e shooters; a genre that up until relatively recently, Japanese gamers have had little to no interest in. It’s always, always about the games, which is – I believe – why Nintendo’s Wii U has yet to gain any real traction anywhere. for it’s party, Microsoft did initially try and develop some Japanese momentum, by nurturing and developing Nippon-specific titles such as Blue Dragon, [email protected] and Lost Odyssey – but even those titles sold poorly. Unfortunately, Microsoft’s big Japanese push came in the middle of that Red ring of Death fiasco, and the Japanese are not fond of things that break.

Since then, momentum has never been achieved, and Kinect (thanks to Japan’s ludicrously tiny homes) failed to take off. It brings about the question of just how much time, money and effort Microsoft will focus on Japan for its as-yet-unannounced next-generation, Kinect-driven Xbox – and whether or not they should bother at all.

Last Updated: April 2, 2013

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