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Xbox Struggles With Lackluster Sales In Korea

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the lack-of-seasonal-warmth dept.

PlayStation (Games) 45

Thanks to the Korea Herald for its article outlining the disappointing performance of Microsoft's Xbox compared to the PlayStation 2 in South Korea. The article notes: "Just a year ago, Microsoft Korea, a unit of U.S.-based software giant Microsoft Corp., envisioned a bright future for its spiffy Xbox video game console... [they] initially aimed to sell 150,000 units during the first year. However, sales have fallen far short of this target at just 60,000 units." In comparison, "The Korean market has so far snapped up 600,000 PlayStation 2 game consoles since its debut 22 months ago." The piece attributes Microsoft's problems to the Xbox lacking "killer titles that instantly grab the attention - and the pockets - of game lovers", but also notes that "some critics attribute the glaring failure of Xbox on the Korean market to Microsoft Korea's poorly managed marketing."

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45 comments

A case of not serving the market (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7800041)

Microsoft still hasn't released that M*A*S*H* game for the X-Box.

Re:A case of not serving the market (1)

lidocaineus (661282) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800532)

Didn't the Atari 2600 version have you playing a blocky version of the board game "Operation" after you picked up all the moving pixels off the battlefield? :P

Re:A case of not serving the market (1)

tangrisser (735207) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801418)

I think you guys are underestimating the power that Korea holds in game industry, 1/3 of world's sales for StarCraft was from Korea..
now i realize we are considered SC Freaks..but whatever...
They have failed to have launch X-Box Live w/ the X-Box itself..that's where I believe they have failed since..
X-Box Live itself is fairly successful..
They should seriously release more killer titles..

How can it not succeed? (1, Funny)

bigman2003 (671309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800163)

As the article says- it would be amazing if the Xbox was not a success in Korea, due to their huge broadband penetration. (Really- why do we use the word 'penetration' here?)

From the article, it was difficult to determine if Xbox Live is already up and running in Korea- I think 'yes' (with 4,000 subscribers).

I wonder how much the service costs in comparison to the U.S.- is it the equivalent of $50?

Do they like games where you fly airplanes, and shoot at each other? Or tennis? Do they know the concept of a voodoo doll?

You know what the killer title would probably be for the South Korean market- the one they could really get into?

Freakin' Missle Command...If I was Microsoft, I'd release that one right away.

Re:How can it not succeed? (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800666)

There's Starcraft Ghost that would be really cool for them, but since it comes out on the PS2 also, the Xbox version would need some nefty features (Level downloads with Live? Way better graphics maybe?) to sell boxes.

The State of Xbox in Korea (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7800729)

The Live pack with 12 months of access and the headset goes for 60,000won, which is roughly $50.

Right now there's a bundle pack which has the system, Ghost Recon: Island Thunder and Splinter Cell, plus two months of Live service for 229,000won. (About $192)

The best deal is in Japan, though, where it's doing just as poorly. System, one additional controller, DVD kit, Halo and Project Gotham 2, plus two months of Live service - all for 19,800yen. (About $184)

The only strong selling point for the Xbox here in Korea is mod-ability. You can take it to the electronics market in Seoul (if you didn't just buy it there) and get it fitted with a modchip for about $40. The installer will also load you up with emulators, some roms and the region-free DVD hack - at no extra charge. Once that's done you can then buy any Xbox game for 15,000won. (About $12) You can also get emulators for nearly every classic console and have the ultimate retro-gaming machine if you want. The only people buying legit titles are the ones who haven't chipped their systems or if they want to use the game on Live.

Re:The State of Xbox in Korea (2, Interesting)

bugbread (599172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801744)

"The best deal is in Japan, though, where it's doing just as poorly"

Pricewise, true, but the amazing dearth of games released for the Japanese system mean that you're essentially buying an expensive paperweight. Sure, there are a few of the top games available here in Japan, but 70% or so of the highly reviewed XBox titles have not been released in Japan. That's why I have an American XBox instead.

Re:The State of Xbox in Korea (1)

wheresdrew (735202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805813)

but 70% or so of the highly reviewed XBox titles have not been released in Japan. That's why I have an American XBox instead.

True, that's why I haven't bought one in Korea (I'm the AC who posted the parent to your comment) and won't buy one when I'm in Japan next month. I'd like to set one up as a retro-gaming machine, but still want to be able to play on Live. The modchips are switchable to allow play on Live, but since most of the Live games are US releases, I'd need a US machine and US original games.

If the US bundle were the same as the Japanese one, I'd get a friend on the military base to snag one for me. As it is, I'm not dropping $180 for the system and two B-liist games.

Re:How can it not succeed? (1)

PFAK (524350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800988)

What Microsoft really needs (god I'm giving them good suggestions) is to get Ragnarok Online [ragnarok.co.kr] on the XBox, and the XBox live, and then they would have it made.

A very popular game in Korea, and other parts of the world. Hell, I'd buy an XBox just to play Ragnarok Online if I lived in Korea. ;)

Re:How can it not succeed? (1)

hiroshi912681 (589840) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801171)

I hope you're not confusing North Korea with South Korea with the missile joke... =(

It's kind of weird that Xbox ISN'T succeeding in S. Korea... but it really needs more strategy games, more "hardcore" pc games... and another shot in the arm would be True Fantasy Online.

Also, localisation/translations of games would be another big help =p

Re:How can it not succeed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803601)

Considering that the first thing N. Korea would do were the US to go all Iraq on their ass would be to rain missiles down on S. Korea, the joke is very applicable to S. Korea. In other words, S. Korea would need to do the Missile Command thing.

Bad Timing (4, Interesting)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800170)

Back in 1990s Microsoft have numerous opportunities to jump deep into the gaming market. Specifically during the transition from 16bit (genesis/SNES) to 32 (PS1). I still have an issue somewhere of game informer with Gates on the cover. There was so much talk about M$ diving into gaming, but no consoles ever panned out accept an occasional release of age of empires.

They should have gone into the market and dominated then. Not now... with a scene packed with competitors especially sony the 8000 ton godzilla.... who was really just an 800 pound gorilla at one time.

Re:Bad Timing (2, Interesting)

August_zero (654282) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800310)

He was on the cover of "next Generation" back in 96(90% sure it was summer of 96)). I found the issue when I visited my parents a few months back, and read some of the old articles.

MS's stance on the gaming market at the time was that PCs would eventually take it over, or at least grab a very large portion of the pie. Gates felt that the mature, adult gamer would be more interested in the performance that a high end PC that could be upgraded et cetera would give them as opposed to a console that was thrown out every 5 years or so.

But this is all off topic really

Interstingly enough, one of the biggest motivators of Sony jumping into the market in the first place was the brief partnership they had with Nintendo to produce the SNES cd-rom drive that never happened. The Phillips CD-I had a similar origin though we all know how the story turned out.

Why is MS "failing" in Korea? The same reasons they are "failing" in Japan.

Godzilla not welcome in Korea (4, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800376)

They should have gone into the market and dominated then. Not now... with a scene packed with competitors especially sony the 8000 ton godzilla

Godzilla is not welcome in Korea. It is the territory of Yongary [stomptokyo.com]

Re:Bad Timing (1)

burns210 (572621) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801574)

Wait... Timeout here. You came on slashdot of all places and actually tried to encourage Microsoft into domination a perfectly undominated market? Where do you think you are? What target audience on slashdot are you trying to get to with a post like that?

"YA, it would have been soo(!) much better if mircosoft would have monopolized the gaming market 8 years ago, rather than throw GOBBS of money at it today, to try and produce the same effect!"

*GAG*

Right, right. (1)

Inoshiro (71693) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801646)

Because those guys over at Nintendo [nintendo.com] sure as hell never really had marketshare. They only made Gameboy long enough for kids to get the hang of a d-pad and buttons, so that they'be be ready for the Playstation controller.

There never is a vacuum in the video game power, except for that time in 1983 when Atari let the market down. You don't just waltz in and take the reins, you work your way into the market with a product that is chosen by consumers!

whats the deal??? (2, Insightful)

MeThOdXxX (687526) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800577)

This may be a little off-topic but who cares? I went out last night and finally bought a X box console, mainly because of the X box live feature. After getting home and checking out the 2 free games that comes with it, Star Wars and Tetris World, I was pretty excited because the gameplay and graphics were great(One could expect nothing less from Microsoft)although Star Wars and Tetris World aren't my kind of games. After playing for a little while I decided to go out and rent a couple of games. My first stop was at Movie Gallery, which to my disappointment there were hardly any games available, in fact there were nearly 3 to 4 PS2 games for every one X box game. So I left and decided that Blockbuster Video might be a better choice, and to my suprise it was the exact same way there. Now I know that PS2 has been out in the U.S. for a good while now and has had time to make plenty of games but give me a break. X box has been out for a few years now and there are hardly any games available for rent at rental stores. Now, I dont know about anybody else but I rent games before I buy them, seems pretty logical to me. Im not sure what the deal is, weither X box games are too expensive for rental stores to purchase games or it may be that X box isnt popular enough to buy many games for. My thinking is that this my in fact hurt X box sales. A person isn't going to buy a gaming console when find out that there are only a handfull of games, sucky games at that, at your local rental store. Just a Thought.

Re:whats the deal??? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7800936)

My first stop was at Movie Gallery, which to my disappointment there were hardly any games available, in fact there were nearly 3 to 4 PS2 games for every one X box game.
Hilarious.....and +2 "Interesting" to boot. Keep up the good work.

Re:whats the deal??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7805256)

WTF?

Not just the xbox... (3, Informative)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800601)

I don't think it's necessarily a case of the XBox not penetrating the market because it's Microsoft.

Right now pretty much all the consoles take a backseat to PC games. Korea is very much a hotbed for RTS and MMORPG games. On the video game channels, they've been trying to bring in some more head-to-head deathmatch leagues using Halo and Smackdown (and some other Xbox and Playstation titles, I think, as well as some Counterstrike and Navy Seals), but those tend to fall under the category of more-fun-to-play-than-watch. Surprisingly enough, watching the Starcraft fights are entertaining, just because they've gotten SO good at producing and rushing and protecting the rush on the various RTS titles, and the commentators are pretty good at moving around in god-mode to wherever the best skirmishes are. Anyhow, that coverage has led to constant promotion of the PC platform and the games that are good for it.

Re:Not just the xbox... (1)

*weasel (174362) | more than 10 years ago | (#7802271)

I have to agree with you there. I mean, Korea has more broadband subscribers than america. Not in a percentage either, straight up number of accounts. that's staggering.

A huge slice of their society participates in gaming - much more than just about anywhere else, except perhaps japan.

That said, think for a second, the ps2 in almost 2 years managed 600k sales. the same ps2 that's sold what? they say like 50m in the states.

clearly korea just isn't a very big console market.

that said, showing up late, and with a very weak eastern-appealing lineup - it's the same mistakes they made in japan.

They'll straighten it out, or 'lose' - it doesn't really matter. No market has any particular bearing over any other.

Brain... hurts... (2, Funny)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800725)

Microsoft? Poor marketing? Does... not... compute...

Does it Play Starcraft? (0, Flamebait)

dupper (470576) | more than 10 years ago | (#7800754)

'Cause if it doesn't play Starcraft, why the fuck would the Koreans want it?

Precisely... (1)

orthancstone (665890) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801040)

That's why they should just port it to the Xbox and stop selling anything else for the system in Korea...

Lineage (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801008)

Perhaps they should try releasing Lineage for it, or they could save development costs by just making it legal for people to mod their Xbox so they can run it themselves.

arrg! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7801077)

i hate the word lackluster! it doesnt even make sense!

Any negative story about he Xbox is a good one (1)

DaveCBio (659840) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801169)

Right? It's too bad that there are so many people on Slashdot that feel the need to bash a decent platform. Sagging sales in Asia haven't hurt the Xbox for me. In fact this Xmas there are more games for me to choose and I can't get my wife off Rainbow 6 on Live.

Maybe they just hate Yanks! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7801202)

could be that simple.

Unlikely to be that simple... (2, Interesting)

freeBill (3843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803641)

...since many Koreans *really* do hate the Japanese. This has long resulted in a strong preference (in Korea) for American products over Japanese products.

The amazing thing is that PS2 is outselling Xbox in Korea by such a wide margin when Koreans have long been some of the biggest customers in the Far East for Microsoft products. The fact that Koreans like on-line games (where Xbox has a very strong reputation compared to PS2) makes it even more mysterious.

Re:Maybe they just hate Yanks! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7805268)

Yeah!

Like me! I don't own a PS2 cuz I hate Japs! It's that simple!!!!

*rolls eyes*

You're a lackwit, a teenager, or both.

This is not "stuff that matters". (2, Funny)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801645)

Are we going to have a story for the sales data of every console for every country now? I heard it's not big in Mesopotamia, when's that story going to be posted?

Re:This is not "stuff that matters". (0, Offtopic)

FreeForm Response (218015) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801817)

I have to take issue with your sig ("Vote ANYONE BUT Bush 2004").

Although I agree wholeheartedly that Bush is the devil, and that he needs not to be (re-)elected in 2004, the voting system used in America ensures that the candidate whose voting bloc is least divided wins. If 75% of the people vote for "anyone but Bush," he can still win handily with 25% of the vote (assuming there are at least three other, equally-voted-for candidates). This is of course an exaggerated estimate, made to prove a point, but I hope it explains my logic.

We do not need to vote for "anyone but Bush," we instead need to decide who we want to be President, and work to make that happen. It's not enough to band together against a common enemy unless we have something to take its place.

Sorry for the offtopic rant, but I've been wanting to ramble about this for a while (and it's too late at night for my better judgment to restrain me). No offense is meant to you directly.

Re:This is not "stuff that matters". (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801904)

I believe that too many people have fallen into the "if we don't vote for one (of the two) major candidates our vote is lost" trap. People should just outright vote for who they want, not try to second guess everyone else. If the major canditates actually saw raw voting figures on based on how people really think then perhaps we'd start to see real and lasting policy change.

Really? You surprise me! (2, Insightful)

iainl (136759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801725)

Korean games market in "closer to Japan than the US" shocker!

The PS2 outsells the XBox roughly 10 to 1 worldwide, why shouldn't it do so in Korea? They may have had high expectations, but those expectations were frankly unrealistic.

Re:Really? You surprise me! (1, Interesting)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7801808)

The Japanese and Korean markets are actually very different.

PC gaming, especially with regards to RTS games, is very big in Korea and so is online play.


Re:Really? You surprise me! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7802126)

Exaclt and what many people here are missing is that RTS plays best on keyboard and mouse, something the xbox doesnt come standard with.

Re:Really? You surprise me! (1)

bugbread (599172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7802935)

Amen. Here in Japan, PC gaming has traditionally been the field of the uberdorks, and has quite a bit of stigma attached to it. Early broadband penetration in Korea has resulted in the opposite happening. Favored games also differ greatly, with RTS being a minor subgenre in Japan, while in Korea...well, you know.

Re:Really? You surprise me! (1)

corian (34925) | more than 10 years ago | (#7807586)

PC gaming, especially with regards to RTS games, is very big in Korea and so is online play.


Right. And if you already have a nice PC that you use for gaming, why are you going to go out and buy another, feature-cut PC, which is much less powerful and more restricted than the one you already have?

Re:Really? You surprise me! (1)

Mike Mentalist (544984) | more than 10 years ago | (#7807806)

Right. And if you already have a nice PC that you use for gaming, why are you going to go out and buy another, feature-cut PC, which is much less powerful and more restricted than the one you already have?

What, you mean just like how people in the West can enjoy playing on PC's AND consoles?

Bastard systems of the console world... (1)

Mitleid (734193) | more than 10 years ago | (#7802166)

Just out of curiosity, does anyone who is currently living abroad or know first hand whether or not the XBOX is viewed as the bastard console system of the Asian-based market? I mean, Japan has been pumping out consoles for nearly two decades now, and they've been doing a hell of a job at it, so maybe XBOX is just seen by the "non-Western" world just as the French see our wine? Maybe it has sold poorly in Korea just because it seems laughable that the MS juggernaut is trying to cash in on something that has been done for so long as o much better already? I've always wondered this... I'm not trying to break things down to a simple "black or white" cultural perspective. I think its safe to say these "identities" exist for all products in a globalized capitalist system, so I just wanted to get some input into this. Personally, I do own an XBOX and have a blast playing it, but I gotta say when it comes to console games (particularly RPGs) I think the most acclaimed Japanese-based developers have a better track revord. Not to say every console game that comes out of Japan is flawless, but so many of the better game companies have already established such a great reputation for themselves.

Re:Bastard systems of the console world... (2, Insightful)

bugbread (599172) | more than 10 years ago | (#7803036)

I can't speak for all of Asia, but the general view in Japan before the XBox came out was caution. People weren't dogging the system, but there weren't many fanboys either. People didn't know what to expect. However, when it came out, Microsoft got hit by a 1-2 punch. First, the XBox is huge. I own one, and love it, but I actually remember, before buying it, calculating where in my room I would have space for it. Admittedly, my apartment was so small even Japanese were surprised, but in a market where space is a commodity, making the largest system was a huge minus. Then, and far more damaging, was the CD scratching issue, which Microsoft tried to completely blow off. If I remember right, their stance was "the scratches don't affect game playability, so ignore it." BAD move. That's a bad approach anywhere, but in Japan, customer service fucking rocks. Sure, things are overpriced, sure, companies have a lot of control, but when a product ships with a malfunction, you fix it, apologize profusely, and hope to god that it doesn't do your product in. Microsoft's going to the other extreme of dismissing the complaints struck a humongous disonant chord, and even after Microsoft relented and took back the defective units for repairs, XBox sales never really took off.

Past that, it's just been the standard snowball effect of "few users, so few companies produce games for the system. Few games for the system, so few people buy the system." Keep in mind that the Japanese XBox has something like 1/3 of the number of games that the U.S. one does, and the actual breakdown is more depressing: while not having games like GTAIII, SSX 3, KOTOR, Tony Hawk, etc., they do have separate Mah Jong, Shogi, Igo, and Othello games. Sure, people like these types of games, but nobody decides to buy a system because of them. The Japanese selection of games, while having a few bright stars, is basically a collection of muck. I even distinctly remember them hyping Nezumikkusu (Sneakers) as a groundbreaking flagship game.

Sorry, a little long-winded. Still, I would say that XBox's failure in Japan was less due to cultural perceptions of Japanese customers, and more to do with Microsoft not trying to adapt to the Japanese culture. That is, it wasn't so much the perceptions as the actual reality that shut down XBox viability in Japan.

Personally, I was one of the dumb ones who bought an XBox here when it first came out. Luckily, no scratching problem, but when I noticed that all the games I wanted to play were released only in America (note that my tastes differ from Japanese tastes, as I am American), and the Japanese games were scraping the barrel bottom, I eventually caved in and bought a US XBox. I now have a great game system that I enjoy, sitting on top the biggest, blackest region 2 DVD player on the market.

Competion? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7803703)

Let me see... Same price as the PlayStation 2, fewer titles?

Yeah, Koreans are going to snatch that up... If they were stupid.

if they thought it was going to be easy.... (2, Interesting)

tabby (592506) | more than 10 years ago | (#7805056)

http://www.gamespy.com/gdc2003/korean/

[quote]After the ugliness of World War II, Korea banned many Japanese imports. The result? No Nintendos. No Segas. No PlayStation or PlayStation 2. In this unique space, the PC was it. It became the de-facto, be-all and end-all of serious gaming platforms. [/quote]

Koreans don't take consoles seriously.

Well, I guess the flippant answer... (1)

tuxedobob (582913) | more than 10 years ago | (#7807698)

... is that they're too busy playing WarCraft III.

No, seriously. There's a level 50 player on the Kalimdor (Asia) ladder. US ladders are at something like 35. Koreans are known Blizzard fanatics. I believe there's a paid WarCraft III tournament that's happening in Korea either soon or recently.

Hmmm.... that still sounds like a troll. Oh well.

Maybe there isn't.... (1)

thirty2bit (685528) | more than 10 years ago | (#7810917)

... enough of the Anime-style titles that are ubiquitous to Japan?
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