It consistently sells well in North America, Europe, and the rest of the world – but can’t seem to gain traction with the Japanese. Whereas, both the Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii have a strong grip on the Japanese market. Microsoft’s well known problems with breaking into the Japanese market continue, but they haven’t given up yet. According to Chris Lewis, Microsoft’s European Boss, they remain committed to what they know is a difficult market.
The sales of the Xbox 360 in Japan have been miniscule and the console recently took an almost 50% decline in year-to-date sales for that region. Since launch, the console has only sold 1.5 million units in Japan, after being on shelves for coming up on six years. That is a number Nintendo’s 3DS has already surpassed — thanks to a price-cut — in a mere six months.
When questioned about the lack of sales in Japan, Chris Lewis told Eurogamer:
“No, of course we’re not pulling out. It’s a challenging market. We are up against very strong competition there. All of our competition is strong. We’re very respectful of what Sony and Nintendo do and where they’ve come from and what they bring.
Nintendo, particularly with the Wii, have opened up a market opportunity there. We’ve leapfrogged that handheld technology with Kinect. What we’re seeing is users love using their own body without worrying about how to work a controller. So we see ourselves as, frankly, a company that does bring an awful lot of firsts, and we’ve enjoyed fabulous success with Kinect.”
The Kinect certainly has some cool applications, but it’s hard to imagine the device making the kind of push needed for the Xbox 360 to take a meaningful segment of the Japanese market. Games like Child of Eden and the upcoming Steel Batallion: Heavy Armor may perform well in Japan, but most likely not enough to make a noticeable boost in sales. As a western produced console, the Xbox 360 simply does not have enough Japanese developed games to interest regional consumers.
With Sony announcing a PS3 price-drop and Nintendo unveiling a slimmer version of the Wii, one would think that Microsoft would want to follow suit, but nothing has been announced yet. Though, Microsoft has hinted that they will use next month’s Tokyo Game Show to prove that they are still interested in the Japanese market – but, until then, we’ll just have to wait.
Is it too late for Microsoft or can they gain some ground with the Xbox 360 in Japan?