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The 360's Japanese Status Revisited

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the hard-days dept.

68

Next Generation is reporting on more elements of the Xbox 360's presence in Japan. From the corporate side of things, the head of the Xbox division in Japan can be referred to as vaguely pessimistic. From the article: "Two RPGs from such a prolific fellow as Sakaguchi may strike a chord in Japan, but Microsoft will have to pull out even more tricks with the impending launch of the Wii and PS3, both of which Japan gamers favor over the Xbox brand. Right now, the Xbox 360 can't even make any headway sans next-gen competition. 'Globally we are doing very well but Japan has always been tough,' Huston admitted. 'We launched early and with not enough Japan-specific content.'" They're also running an article looking deeper into the situation, an examination from an outsider's perspective. From that article: "Mr. Huston has also commented that the 360 'launched early,' which is true in many senses of the word -- they launched before all their competitors, they launched early into the popularity of high-definition televisions in Japan, and they launched earlier than any good games. It was widely believed by Microsoft Japan that Dead or Alive 4 would save the system at launch, though really, how naive is that?"

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I'll prolly get modded down but... (5, Funny)

Antiochius (959975) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720651)

What Xbox360 presence in Japan?

Re:I'll prolly get modded down but... (1)

transmetal (904896) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720791)

MS Execs clearly took their strategy from Monty Python's "How Not to be Seen"

No, it's the "Ron Obvious" Sketch.... (1)

Antiochius (959975) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720950)

MS Execs clearly took their strategy from Monty Python's "How Not to be Seen"

No, it's the Microsoft version of the Ron Obvious sketch:

http://www.orangecow.org/pythonet/sketches/jump.ht m [orangecow.org]

Ron Obvious Jumps across the english channel ,Eats a cathedral , Tunnels to Java, Runs all the way to Mercury, and finally Makes the Xbox360 a hit in Japan

Yep.... Still dead. (5, Funny)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720681)

These stories about the Xbox360's chances in Japan are like exhuming a body just to confirm that it's still dead.

All the defibrillation in the world won't bring that sucker back to life.

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720731)

But defibrillation is so much fun!


All they have to do to make XBox 360 is Japan is bundle Duke Nukem Forever... oh wait.

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721311)

They do Say any press is good press, but damn. [joystiq.com] The 360 sold less than 2000 units, and the original X-Box sold 8. EIGHT!?!?!

If you sell fewer than 10 systems across the country for a week they should post the people's names that bought them too.

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (1)

gullevek (174152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722880)

No need for that. Those are all foreigners. I saw _ONE_ japanese guy buy Burnout for xbox, but perhaps he lived half is life in the US. The rest are foreigners (like me) who take advantage of the cheap xbox price in Japan and the fact the hong kong ordered games in english are damn cheap.

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724595)

Just joking. If you are a foreigner in Japan, and buying X-box because it a) suits your needs, and b) is cheap I can very much understand it. (The X-Box, has been the same price as the PS2 for most of it's life, and a much better value.)

Maybe you can shed some light on how they're dropping the ball in Japan. Are they not making games that fit the Japanese tastes? Did they botch their marketing? or what? A number of Slashdot users assume it's 'Nationalism' and they don't buy X-box simply because it's American. I don't buy that for a second.

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (1)

gullevek (174152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15728223)

On the release date there were _NONE_. Not a single game that I would call a "typical japanese game". And thats RPG. Or Meacha/RPG. Now, which means, gazillion of ages later. They came out with one Mecha and one RPG. "oh wow". Well that will get none of those out from the back.

In my opinion, because those who would have the side money, are not any more the ones who would buy and xbox if they already have a ps2. Most of them use their mobile phone for gameing. Second, those who are nerdy enought to perhaps buy an xbox also have no reason to do so, because just for those two games, who are not really "supers", they wont do it. Major japanese RPG things are still released PS2 only. Third, hit games, that target only japanese market, wont be relesed for these big systems. I am talking about the "brain games". Thats the big hit. Number 1 for ages for the DS was a brain train game. Same for the PSP. Why? Because in the short time, japanese have time to play games, thats during the train ride, and japanese just love those "brain games".

So what should MS do different? They cant. They lost, like the PS3 will loose. Because none of those have new concepts. They are just "better graphics". No, that will not make anyone buy it. Not the masses. The masses will buy something like Wii. A system that has an innovation, and that makes fun. Yes, some nerds will get the PS3, and so on. But they wont make the cash come in.

In Japan the big TV konsole thing is over. Not dead, but over. Keitai games, DS, thats where the cash is right now. A japanese co-worker bought herself the DS, not primary for gaming, but because it has a dictionary in it and she can play those "brain games". Seems to me, MS can try as long as they have the money, but they wont make a pot of gold in Japan.

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (1)

nissu (823183) | more than 8 years ago | (#15729316)

So what should MS do different? They cant. They lost, like the PS3 will loose. Because none of those have new concepts. They are just "better graphics". No, that will not make anyone buy it. Not the masses. The masses will buy something like Wii. A system that has an innovation, and that makes fun. Yes, some nerds will get the PS3, and so on. But they wont make the cash come in.

I think that you're wrong when you claim that the masses want innovation. I say that the masses want next gen graphics and the next GTA/Gran Turismo/Halo. As much as I'd like to see Wii succeed (and other consoles too; more choice is always good) I'm afraid it will do well only in Japan and hold the third spot pretty much everywhere else.

After all, Wii is basically just a slightly enhanced Gamecube with a novel controller, whose actual usability is still a big question mark.

Wii's lineup will consist of the same multiplatform stuff that is available for PS3 and Xbox360 (only with much better graphics on the other consoles; multiplatform games are also unlikely to take advantage of the new controller) plus the usual set of Mario/Zelda/Metroid sequels from Nintendo. If you didn't care for Mario & co earlier, you won't care now either.

Also, the ability to download and play old emulated games is likely to appeal to a very limited audience - this is "nerd" territory if anything.

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (1)

Traiklin (901982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723129)

wow that is pretty bad.

It's getting beat by the original GBA (and that thing is a POS). The 360 is actually doing pretty well (much better then I thought it would be anyways).

Re:Yep.... Still dead. (0, Offtopic)

v_1matst (166486) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721400)


OK, this is completely off topic but.....

Defibrillation is actually intended to STOP the heart in the hope that it will go back to regular rhythm. They are used to counter the onset of ventricular fibrillation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defibrilation [wikipedia.org]

The way they are used on TV and in movies is usually very wrong. They will not start a non-beating heart and CPR is the proper procedure in these situations.

Why no staged rollout? (4, Interesting)

Pearson (953531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720708)

It's so common for the Japanese consoles to be released in stages to the various markets of the world, that I don't understand why MS didn't withhold the system from that region until they had a compelling package.

Being first to market doesn't guarantee success, and often allows your competitors to learn from your mistakes. Even if MS had a killer line up of Japanese games coming, they now have to fight against a negative perception.

Re:Why no staged rollout? (2, Insightful)

Traiklin (901982) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720832)

exactly

The one thing I couldn't understand is in all the interviews with higher ups involved with the Xbox line was they always said "The Xbox failed in japan because there wasn't enough Japan-centric games, nothing was made for that region. We have learned from this though and the Xbox 360 will have more Japan-centric games"

So they launch worldwide and what is the selection of games japan has? All American & European centric games, not one that would appeal to the Japan crowd. Yet they kept pushing that Dead or Alive 4 would change all that, everyone in Japan would buy a 360 once that game was released.

after the 4th delay it get's released and sales for the 360 barely move. NOW they are going on about the two RPG's from Sakaguchi, like he is going to suddenly sell millions of 360's in japan just cause of his games.

Sure he made final fantasy (or is it Dragon quest?) but that was how many years ago? when games like that weren't exactly abundant, Now you have so many companies doing RPG's that it's hard to tell them apart at times. He's starting two whole new franchises, They have never released an Xbox game before, no one knows what to expect from the game (there isn't exactly a whole lot to go off of, cause you always can remember Fable, everytime they talked about it they would talk about ALL the stuff in the game, in the videos you rarely saw anything, it was released and had nothing they said it would). So naturally the Japanese are taking a wait and see approach.

Maybe the game will be a great RPG and revitalize the RPG genre (doubtfull), Maybe it will fail misserably, who knows but there won't be any mass 360 movements untill they start thinking more about the region and that they NEED more Japanese centric (aka LONG &/or FUN) games, not countless sports, Racing & FPS'.

Re:Why no staged rollout? (1)

Jesterboy (106813) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721391)

Sakaguchi was personally involved in designing the first 6 Final Fantasy titles, and served as executive producer over a large portion of Square's PSX titles. If Microsoft was going to bet on somebody to save their system, it's hard to imagine a guy better than him.

However, I agree with you that Microsoft counting on only this to save their system is a really stupid idea. Whatsmore, the Final Fantasy games generally lose to the Dragon Quest / Dragon Warrior ones in Japan. Microsoft needs to start listening to what their customers actually want instead of telling them what they should want.

Re:Why no staged rollout? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15721769)

I must admit that from what I've seen so far from Sakaguchi-san's games I was not impressed. Blue Dragon looks very empty and sterile, and I can't really say anything at all about the other one.
What people normally forget is that he didn't single-handedly make these games, and to credit the success of a game to a single person is foolish. There are a lot of designers, artists and engineers involved in the production of a title, and the talent of many people is required for a good project. Having said that you never know who's talent exactly had the most influence, but you can bet that they get the least publicity!
It seems to me that Microsoft believes that by hiring people with the biggest profile some of their glory rubs off onto them - but in many case they ended up with has-beens, who are useless outside their old environment.

Re:Why no staged rollout? (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722815)

"Microsoft needs to start listening to what their customers actually want instead of telling them what they should want."

But it works so well just to tell them in America!

Re:Why no staged rollout? (1)

Keeper (56691) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720844)

They already had to fight a negative perception before the 360 launched: the original xbox.

Failing to release it in Japan would have left gamers with the impression that Microsoft wasn't commited to Japan. It would have been an insult to all of the Japaneese devs they've been courting to develop Japaneese content. And finally, they need every extra second of a lead they can get over Sony to establish some sort of presence in the Japaneese market.

They were damned either way (1)

ianscot (591483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721003)

Even if MS had a killer line up of Japanese games coming, they now have to fight against a negative perception.

Whereas if they'd waited until they had a great lineup of (they thought) Japan-friendly titles, they'd have somehow been stiffing the Japanese market, and they'd have that negative perception to overcome.

They were already in a hole. In order to get out of it they'd have had to try something different that would bring them back to the attention of potential buyers. They tried more of the same, or at most an incremental "we learned our lessons" improvement.

Re:They were damned either way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15721960)

They had severe launch shortages in the US. They could have delayed the Japanese launch for that reason, it's a perfectly good excuse (I wasn't annoyed at Nintendo taking a while to launch the Lite over here, they didn't have enough units for Japan let alone the world).
Even without that I don't think many Japanese gamers would have complained, the xbox 1 obviously didn't have much fanbase there. It would have been smarter to wait 6 months at least, once the console is dead it stays that way forever.

It's a cultural thing (3, Interesting)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720764)

Let us for a minute forget that Microsoft's software lineup was less than thrilling. Let us also cast aside that the 360 is/was geared (mainly) towards FPSs and online gaming, neither of which are as big in Japan as they are here. Let's ignore that it was a console following up on the catastrophic failure (in Japan at least) that was the original Xbox.

Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese. To put it in other terms, this is like asking why Toyotas don't sell better amongst American UAW union workers. Or why France doesn't have a major California wine festival. From my understanding of speaking with people who live(d) in Japan, there is a very big sense of nationalism with video games, more so than in any other country. The three superpowers of the last two decades, Sony, Sega and Nintendo, were all Japanese. It is almost offensive to suggest to a Japanese customer that Microsoft could do a better job than the homegrown heroes.

Simply put, the deck was stacked against Microsoft from the very beginning.

This is not to say that Microsoft is at a complete loss with the 360 in Japan, but certainly some of those resources could be better used at launching that console more strongly in other markets where this console xenophobia may not exist. Maybe India. Maybe it's China. Or Korea. Maybe it's another country. (Look at the estimated makeup of internet-connected Xbox 360 owners around the globe [fantasticdamage.com] ). My guess is Blizzard is not focusing on Japan as WoW's third biggest market.

It would take some amazing feat, like Zelda, Biohazard and Dragonquest all launching only on the next Xbox, for Microsoft to be anywhere near the top in Japan. That's not going to happen, so you need to focus your resources where they are best spent. And it's not Japan.

If that seems depressing, think of the executives in Japan that can't seem to understand why dating sims and DOA-based patchinko games aren't automatic big sellers here. I don't think they're losing much sleep over it.

Re:It's a cultural thing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15720881)

The argument that the XBox does poorly in Japan simply because it is American is false and represents a gross misunderstanding of Japaneese culture; in fact in many ways it is American Culture is cool in Japan (in a similar way to how Japaneese culture is cool in North America). The problem is that the XBox is a system that is designed around the American Hard-Core gamer with the exclusion of all others; when you look at the line-up of games for the XBox you'll see mostly Racing games, First/Third person shooters and Sports games (games that are important in North America but not in Japan).

Basically, saying the XBox is unpopular in Japan because it is American is like saying that Hello Kitty backpacks are unpopular with North American teenagers because the backpacks are Japaneese.

Re:It's a cultural thing (4, Interesting)

dancingmad (128588) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720891)

Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese.

That must be why the Sony MP3 player is trouncing Apple's iPod in Japan.

Wait a second, no it's not. I'm really sick of armchair cultural studies. The entire time I lived in Japan, people picked items based on their percieved quality and/or hipness. I was in Japan for the Xbox360 launch - there was no reaction in Den Den Town. The thing is considered un-hip and bulky. Not because it's American, but because it sucks. The iPod is stylish. The Xbox360 is a lame copy of Apple style. Any Japanese with enough disposable income to pick them up (and I know, my girlfriend bought a nano and helped me buy a couple of DS Lites) would probably pick up on that and base some of their purchasing desicion around it. That's based on all the 20-somethings I knew.

It wasn't that it wasn't American (do you think 10 year old kids care if the XBOX is American? They don't - they just know their favorite series is on the Nintendo DS or that all their friends have one).

That doesn't mean all American products are treated the same way. Dells tend to sell, as well as the iPod and Apple's computers. Sony's MP3 player, on the other hand, is doing nearly as badly there as it is here. American movies, American TV shows, American books are all popular. But any time some half-baked American product fails to make a splash in Japan, it's because the Japanese have "contempt" (read: racism) towards it.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720936)

Any Japanese with enough disposable income to pick them up (and I know, my girlfriend bought a nano and helped me buy a couple of DS Lites)
Does she have a sister?

Re:It's a cultural thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15723233)

The Asian fetishist nerd parade marches onward, ever onward.

Re:It's a cultural thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15724227)

Um... she helped her boyfriend buy a couple of DS Lites, racist moron.

exactly (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721103)

FINALLY, some sensible analysis of this. I mean, guys, let's face it. The Xbox line sucks. It's just "hey, what those other guys do, but like, with better graphics ... and stuff". Plus, why buy Microsoft when you don't have to?

There's no xenophobic conspiracy to keep American products out. The Japanese buy based on value. *new concept*

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721283)

Of course the parent is talking about video games and you're talking about portable digital audio players which last time i checked were not in fact video games.

The ipods success in Japan versus the xbox's lack there of has to do with the fact that there has not been a historical dominance in portable mp3 players by japanese companies. Furthermore, there is nothing culturaly distinctive between a Japanese made mp3 player and an American one where as there are substancial differences between games made and played between the two countries.

So in conclusion your ipod analogy does not work.

Re:It's a cultural thing (2, Interesting)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722627)

The ipods success in Japan versus the xbox's lack there of has to do with the fact that there has not been a historical dominance in portable mp3 players by japanese companies.

No, but Japanese have a long tradition of manufacturing audio products.

But the real reason the iPod has been such a success is that Apple is more Japanese-y than Sony, in terms of industrial design. Jobs and Ives both get it.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

mister_slim (537501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15725408)

Have you ever looked at the MSX? It was pretty successful in Japan, though not so much in the rest of the world. Bonus points for guessing what the "MS" stands for.

Re:It's a cultural thing (0, Flamebait)

xtieburn (906792) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721478)

Your just flipping the discrimination around and positively discriminating based on the idea that the X-Box360 is crap, and the Japanese are far superior to everyone else at determining what is good and bad in technology.

Thats as much crap as any cultural examination the previous poster made.

I believe both of you are wrong. The first poster indicated his judgement is based on the fact the Japanese dislike America and therefore American products. You are suggesting the Japanese are superior in there judgements altogether. I do think the Japanese may have some animosity to America but then so do huge chunks of the whole world, including my own country, 360's doing fine here. Its far more likely that the Japanese market is simply a different one. Not better, not worse, just different. All of the games and marketing were not made for this different market. Thats why they failed.

The japanese clearly have a style and genre set they prefer, just like everyone else does. MS didnt cater for it and now they have a hell of an uphill struggle.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721666)

What makes you say that the Xbox 360 sucks? You state it as if it's a fact and not an opinion... I happen to own one, and I enjoy it all the time. (I just finished the hard levels in Marble Blast and I'm picking up Prey today.)

You might be right that it's kind of a copy of the iPod style, but, then again, so are Sony laptops and I'm sure those are selling in Japan. My personal take is that the Xbox does poorly in Japan partly because it doesn't have (as much of) the type of game genres that are popular in Japan, and partly because Japanese consumers prefer Japanese brands over western ones. That is, a combination of your viewpoint and the grandparent one.

I think a wider question is, "does it really matter?" The Xbox is an American console made by an American company that plays mostly American-made games... you wouldn't really expect it to do well in Japan, and you wouldn't really expect Microsoft to put a ton of effort in selling such an American-centric product in that market. I mean, that's kind of like Cadillac selling Escalades in Tokyo.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722314)

You might be right that it's kind of a copy of the iPod style, but, then again, so are Sony laptops and I'm sure those are selling in Japan.

Only if the Japanese are even dumber than we are. Vaios are built like shit. They have nice bells and whistles but absolutely no durability and build quality that would make even apple laugh.

We got a Vaio with a core duo and nvidia graphics in here and it failed after like two weeks. Pretty sad.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722643)

On the other hand, Harley Davidson, Japan [harley-davidson.co.jp] apparently has trouble keeping bikes in stock, despite being so much more expensive that domestic bikes and despite regulations that make it harder to be licensed to ride bigger bikes.

It's probably one of those fanatic things, though, like how some sarimen collect golf gear but rarely, if ever, play 18 holes of golf.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724370)

Mate, I hate apple as much as the next guy, but comparing ipods to Sony laptops, that is just mean.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 8 years ago | (#15725315)

I said that they were a copy of the iPod *style*, not that they compare at all in terms of quality or anything else. You know, they use the same white plastic, and curved corners, and generally look iPod-ish.

One more thing (2, Interesting)

gullevek (174152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722911)

Mobile phones. Most poeple tend to play this nowadays. The typical Otaku culture changed a bit. There no more super long queues for game releases or hardware releses, well there are, but they are far from what they were.

And at the end, its all about the games. Why would anyone buy a new console, if he/she can get the same games for the PS2 which is already in their homes. Most of them are casual games, and none of them are online RPG playes.

Third, the biggest craze in Japan are "brain train games". Both top sellers for the PSP and the Nintendo DS are brain train games. Japan follows crazes. There is the "black chocolate craze", "the brian train game craze", ... its a group thing here. People buy what is Number one and not what is the best. Everywhere you have the "top 3 super famous best selling things". Mobile phones, cameras, or whatever ...

MS is out of the loop here and to be honest, they will stay out. The next big thing could only be the Wii. Half of my japanese colleges are all over it. "So cheap" "looks so much fun" ... Well, just my two foreigner-in-japan Yen

Re:It's a cultural thing (2, Insightful)

vilenin0 (924361) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720923)

This is all simply an echo of a larger issue most American business had in the 80's - and one that is currently occuring again in China. The Big Three (Two) American Automakers couldn't complain louder about unfair practices that stimied auto sales in the Rising Sun, while Japanese cars couldn't lose market share if they tried in the US. All the while, it probably wouldn't have hurt Ford and Dodge to move the steering wheel to the other side and make their leviathan-sized autos just a _tad_ bit smaller.

My point though, is that the introduction of "American" products will always be met with some hesitation. I noticed three trends when it came to the introduction of American products in Nippon:

1. Products that have an already established and well marketed baseline will be met with resistance , if the introduced product is markedly different from the norm (Cars, video games, fashion)

2. Products that are uniquely "American," that fit a preconceived Japanese stereotype but does not contradict with point #1 will succeed. (MacDonald's comes to mind as the best example)

3. Products that pander to an international standard of design or one of Japanese inspiration will do well. The iPod, for example performed well because it fit Japanese design standards: small, convenient, focus on core product purpose, etc. Also, a friend of mine who is on the iPod design team studied in Japan for about 3-4 years, speaks Japanese fluently, etc. I make that point less to say that he single-handedly designed the device to meet sales, but to say that Apple clearly makes effort to appeal to Japanese standards as part of their product design

Re:It's a cultural thing (2, Informative)

Pearson (953531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720969)

Interesting point, especially considering that Sega was started by Americans. That's probably too far back to influence popular opinions, of course.

With regards to Microsoft's uphill battle in Japan, there is an interesting interview with Tom Kalinske [sega-16.com] (former head of Sega's US division) about how he managed Sega from only a 1% market share in the US to 50% in just 4 years. Perhaps MS can learn some tips. ;)

Whose contempt was that again? (1)

ianscot (591483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721065)

Or why France doesn't have a major California wine festival.

California wines rank quite highly in contests held in France, and have for decades now. I know of at least three "sister city" relationships that celebrate the connection.

Culture is nowhere near as simple as your ideas about contempt, and your stereotypes are inaccurate as far as my own experiences go. My experience of French people (Parisians mostly) is that they're by and large extremely soft-spoken, humorous, and unfailingly polite. (They certainly are gracious next to the American flight crews on the way home; I practically get the bends coming back from those trips. It's usually a crew from Jersey.) My experiences with Japan and the Japanese convince me that they've got some weird twists of racism and sexism going on, but that they are certainly open to cool technical gadgetry from any source. Another poster mentioned the iPod. Uh-huh.

You attribute to spite reactions that aren't nearly that emotional. They don't care. The 360 was greeted by profound indifference in Japan, by all accounts.

Going on a tangent here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15721416)

Am I the only who's less than impressed by those figures?

I mean, okay, I don't know how or when it was done, but that's about 423000 online users worldwide, 60% of which in the US. Meaning the only 2 countries were the 360 is doing well are the US and the UK (same penetration). Ireland is not too bad (8th/26), and I know they're hardly flying off the shelves here.

If you pull a 20% rate of xbox-livers out of your *ss, it means about 2 million worldwide.

Re:It's a cultural thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15721634)

Surely this would then apply equally to the iPod?

Re:It's a cultural thing (4, Insightful)

JordanL (886154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721690)

I was going to mod you down, (-1, Troll), but I decided it would be more constructive, and more helpful to all the rest of slashdot, if I responded.

Your assertions are both simplistic and false. Japan has no real bias against American technology firms, nor American companies in general. The American concept of "pop culture" dictates a lot of what is popular in Japan, and the Japanese have no hate for American driven culture in the public sense.

Point and case: the iPod has been wildly successful in Japan, and is the number one selling MP3 player in Japan by a wide margin, despite the fact that Apple is VERY much an American company.

The problem for Microsoft is two-fold:

1. They don't understand the Japanese consumer. Japanese consumers are VERY different from American consumers. American consumers, more often than not, follow one of two basic buying templates: they buy based on hype, or they buy based on function. Japanese consumers, generally speaking, buy on these three principals, in this order: 1. Brand (has this company sold quality products in the past) 2. Form & Community (Will it look cool wearing it/Will I easily be able to use this with other people I know) 3. Function (Does it have all of the features I am looking for).

Microsoft fails all three counts drastically with the 360, which brings me to the second problem for Microsoft.

2. Microsoft faces a very negative connotation in Japan. Most Japanese people see Windows for what it is: a bulky, bloated, lazy piece of insecure code that isn't worth a fourth as much as Microsoft charges for it, and only survives because of strongarm techniques and an active monopoly.

The Japanese people resent this; nearly as much as the average slashdotter.

So the problem is not that American companies face negative connotations, it's that Microsoft does, and it doesn't help that Microsoft entered a field that where TWO other companies have all three important consumer points in Japan.

So next time you see that the Japanese consumer passed by a display of 30 X360's to buy a DS, don't tag it to racism. Just cry more noob.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

Tarq666 (545095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722892)

I think you should have stopped with your first point. Could it be you are projecting your own feeling towards MS with the second? I've been living here in Japan for the past 13 years and I simply don't see evidence of what you are saying. "Most Japanese people see Windows for what it is: (emphasis mine)". This may be true in the professional circles, but to be painfully honest, most home users...the kinds of people who would buy a XBox360 for their kids...are clueless newbies who have no idea of the shortcomings of MS. The few people I know who purchased a Mac did so for the reasons you outlined in your first point. As for the kids who might want to buy an XBox 360, I just can't imagine the following conversation occuring...

Kid A: Hey the new Xbox 360 looks ok, lets try and out and ask Mom and Dad to buy one for us.
Kid B: NOOOOOOOOO. Xbox 360 is produced by MS and they are famous for making bulky, bloated, lazy piece of insecure code that isn't worth a fourth as much as they charge for it, and only survives because of strongarm techniques and an active monopoly. I resent this.


I see it happening more like this...
Kid A: Hey the new Xbox 360 looks ok, lets try and out and ask Mom and Dad to buy one for us.
Kid B: But they are all turned off or on Demo mode so we can't try them, plus there are no good games available for it yet.

But hey, I could be projecting my own ideas a little bit in this case. I've watched the release of both the original XBox and the 360 and MS has made the same mistake both times. The number of games released for the XBox in Japan is far too low to attract much interest. Go into any store and you'll see row after row of PS2 games (not to mention all the other consoles). XBox and XBox 360 games, even when combined, rarely take up more than a couple of shelves at the end of one row. I usually import my games from Singapore (same region) but still face a far smaller catalogue of titles to choose from. I think the ONLY thing that would convince me to buy a 360 would be a sudden surge in region-free titles or simply get rid of the whole region code for games.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

JordanL (886154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15723261)

I was a little bit more zealous with the second point, and I think it caused me to miss the main focus of the second point: Micrsoft went into the original XBox with a bad brand, the first thing many Japanese consumers buy on. And unfortunately for Microsoft, the XB1 all but destroyed what brand they did have.

It's important to point out though that from what I've heard, the few Japanese who did pick up the original XB enjoyed it, and highly recommended it.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722305)

Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese. To put it in other terms, this is like asking why Toyotas don't sell better amongst American UAW union workers. Or why France doesn't have a major California wine festival.

Last time I looked, the Camry was the best-selling car in America, and a Californian wine took best of show at a major French wine competition.

Both of those items could be a few years old, actually, which if anything shows just how backwards your examples are.

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722812)

Even if we wipe the slate clean, and a new American company comes out with a system in Japan, and it had some interesting games for that market, the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese.

Replace "American" with "Microsoft" and this sentence might be more in tune with reality. Heck, I'm not Japanese, and I feel the same way as they do about the X-Box360. Huge controller with tiny buttons aside, my problem wasn't with the technological side of the console. I just didn't like the games. When any platform does poorly in a localized region, that's usually at or near the top of the list of reasons why.

This is what Nintendo and Sony (PS3 nightmare excluded) do well: they know their audiences--both in terms of similarities and differences. The 360 suffers from the standard Microsoft arrogance of "What we think is best is what most people must want/like/need." The PS2 would be in the same situation in America if the execs only released what they thought Americans wanted. Instead, they both have well-established American divisions that, mostly, keep a good eye on what their market wants to see on the shelves. As far as I know, there is no Microsoft-Japan, and until Microsoft realizes its mistake and starts to listen to the average Japanese videogamer and actively encourage development of games that the Japanese market wants, the company might as well not even try to sell its console there.

Simply put, the deck was stacked against Microsoft from the very beginning.

This is the only true statement in the whole post. Unfortunately, Microsoft can't cry foul on this one, since they were the ones shuffling the cards.

Re:It's a cultural thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15727338)

Actually there is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Japan [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724065)

"the mere fact that it's American causes some contempt among the Japanese."

"Contempt?" If there were contempt against American products or American culture, they wouldn't be giving us all these humorous Engrish phrases; you know, the ones they try to use to seem more American, because they think acting like an American is cool?

"To put it in other terms, this is like asking why Toyotas don't sell better amongst American UAW union workers."

Employee discounts?

"Or why France doesn't have a major California wine festival."

The cost of transatlantic shipping?

"From my understanding of speaking with people who live(d) in Japan, there is a very big sense of nationalism with video games, more so than in any other country."

Wow, second-hand anecdotes, you must be right.

Why must there be some dark, sinister motive in the lackluster sales of Microsoft in Japan beyond "They don't like the games?" Is it that difficult a concept to grasp?

Re:It's a cultural thing (1)

Bob Gelumph (715872) | more than 8 years ago | (#15727282)

The three superpowers of the last two decades, Sony, Sega and Nintendo, were all Japanese.
Service Games, A.K.A. Sega, was from the U.S.
It was a spin-off of some part of the army that was there to make stuff to entertain the troops.

Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (2, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720828)

The 360 is a pretty nice platform, I've used it a bit - but the reason I am relunctant to buy one is the same reason I'm pretty set on buying a PS3 (and a Wii) - Japanese game makers. A lot of the stuff I have enjoyed the most on a console is really the stuff that comes from Japan.

The PS3 is looking even better in that regard as I believe the US and Japan are supposed to be in the same region as far as games go - no more chipping to play games from Japan directly.

I don't know how, but Microsoft really needs to work much harder to get some Japanese studio support or they will have long-term problems in other countries, not just Japan.

Re:Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722329)

The PS3 is looking even better in that regard as I believe the US and Japan are supposed to be in the same region as far as games go - no more chipping to play games from Japan directly.

Yes, and for the price of a functional used car, you too can own one with a couple of games and a second controller! And maybe even a faux-burlwood faceplace! TEH WIN!

Re:Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (1)

Harinezumi (603874) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722416)

After sinking all that cash into my SLI gaming PC, all the consoles seem to cost about the same to me $600? That's just one video card

Re:Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722447)

After sinking all that cash into my SLI gaming PC, all the consoles seem to cost about the same to me $600? That's just one video card

Well, it's nice to have that kind of Disposable income - it's been a while for me, but I do remember. However, most people do not. You are in a teensy, tiny, almost statistically insignificant majority. Most people do not spend $1200 (plus the display!) just on graphics output.

Shit, my whole super duper pooper scooper laptop system setup (HP Core Duo laptop with a 17" widescreen, bluetooth, wifi, 1394, usb2, blah blah blah, docking station, lock, bag, 2 gigs memory) is like $3700 with a three year onsite service contract. (My work is buying it, it's not my money. Or I'd be getting a bargain basement Asus or something.) The machine itself is only about $2300, with the service contract - that's less than twice the price of your video cards alone. And I can't afford it :P

Re:Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15731074)

I hate to break it to you, but looking at the 20 or so PS2 games I still have on my shelf, the money I spent on the console itself is negligable in the long run.

If you're going to complain about a $100 price difference in consoles and that price difference is gone in two games, how many games are you planning to play? Three?

Assuming you'll buy a dozen or more games for either system over the long run, the price difference isn't there -- its about quality. I think Sony's got it right; price it high for early adopters like all other electronics, then knock the price down as it becomes possible.

Re:Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15731758)

On the other hand, Sony is totally unabased about the cost. Who says they'll lower it any time soon? They publically announced that "they" thought it was probably "too cheap". Well, I disagree, suckas. Also, it is about Quality. Quality is about fitness, which for me is based on longetivity and interoperability. Sony's record on hardware durability is horrible. Their record on interoperability is worse.

Granted, I will probably buy one if there is a credible linux distribution... But then it's worth a lot more to me than just a game console. I didn't bother with the PS2, because it had too little memory, but this thing seems like just the ticket. The PS3 won't be a screamin' general purpose machine but maybe there will be some fun toys.

Re:Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (1)

MikeBabcock (65886) | more than 8 years ago | (#15784120)

a) You do realize the PS3 runs Linux natively, right?
b) I bought a later generation PS2 and it has lasted very well. Never buy initial releases of new hardware technology.
c) I play dozens of games on my PS2 and its really amazing what can be done with 32MB of RAM.

See: God of War, Black, etc.

Re:Makes it hard to buy a 360 in the US too (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15784752)

You do realize the PS3 runs Linux natively, right?

Yes. That doesn't mean they'll give us all the libraries that we need to actually utilize the hardware, just as they didn't on the PS2, which at least used Linux as the development system.

I bought a later generation PS2 and it has lasted very well. Never buy initial releases of new hardware technology.

Lots of PSTwos have died on people too, though. (I too have a PSTwo now.)

I play dozens of games on my PS2 and its really amazing what can be done with 32MB of RAM.

Actually I don't find it that amazing. The PS2 is dealing almost exclusively with SDTV resolutions and that's just not that demanding when you compare even to VGA.

Anyway 32MB of RAM might be fine for many kinds of games, but it's not even close to adequate for general-purpose computing any more. I regularly work with images of multiple hundreds of megabytes...

MS dont get it. (3, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15720879)

MS doesn't get the Japanese market, they keep acting like 1 or 2 games is going to change the entire fate of a system.

Best example is from 2channel a few months back, Bandai announced Gundam Gashapon wars. Featuring a truck load of fan favour robots which hadn't been seen in a game since the SNES era. The forum post had about 50 people going "I would of bought it, but it's on the gamecube so I'll pass" or bitching about it being on the gamecube.

Japan doesn't like the Xbox, it doesn't matter what games they put on it, it just won't compete with the DS and the PS2 currently. When the PS3 comes out and the Wii, it will be the next Gamegear/Lynx/Your dead console of choice here.

Re:MS dont get it. (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15724070)

"MS doesn't get the Japanese market, they keep acting like 1 or 2 games is going to change the entire fate of a system."

Newsflash: Sony lures Final Fantasy VII away from the N64. Japanese consumers drop the Sega Saturn like a bad habit.

Re:MS dont get it. (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 8 years ago | (#15729923)

"they keep acting like 1 or 2 games is going to change the entire fate of a system"

Yeah but you can see where they are coming from at least. I mean, just think what might have become of the Xbox had Halo never happened.

No launch titles? I'll say. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15721054)

There weren't any here either! Most people I know are still waiting for Gears of War before they even considering getting a 360.

Sony got something right (sort of) (2, Insightful)

fujiman (912957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721104)

I think the 360 is doing poorly in Japan because of expectation. The Japanese consumers expect the 360 to have (more or less) the same content as the original Xbox. And so far, they've been right.

Sure there are some great games coming up, but MS needs to convince them that this is not a "one off" thing. Sony's chief exec said that the PS3 is about potential, and he's right. When a gamer buys a console, they look for a system that will provide the desired experience now... and years down the road.

I don't think the Japanese are anti-american on this, but it takes a long time to change perception. MS needs a string of good J-friendly releases over time to do this. Maybe the perception will change in time for the next Xbox.

Re:Sony got something right (sort of) (1)

skam240 (789197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721350)

What is the PS3 really providing that the xbox isn't? They've got what might be the next home video format support and what appears to be a last minute tacked on motion sensor on the controler. Meanwhile the 360 has Live.

I'll allow that I might be missing something but I really don't see any of this "potential" that you're refering to in the PS3 above and beyond the potential in the 360.

Re:Sony got something right (sort of) (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722023)

From what I've read, the Xbox wasn't particularly Japanese-friendly as many titles were released without any localization whatsoever. That's really moronic - especially coming from a company that's one of the leaders in localization in the software industry...

People call the Japanese arrogant or racist for their insistance on wanting products localized into Japanese, yet would they purchase something that didn't include English instructions and had an English description on the packaging? Stupid double standard...

Anyways, Microsoft is still learning that it's not hardware that sells consoles - it's the games. And more important, it's games that the people want to play. Of the launch titles, DOA4 was probably among the most desired title in Japan - yet it was delayed. Sure enough, the 360 barely budged when it was released in Japan, yet there was a small increase in sales when DOA4 hit the shelves.

I do notice that the 360 has more Japan-friendly titles lined up for it (namely RPGs) but until these hit the shelves, why buy a 360? Yes, I know a lot of people - both Japanese and non-Japanese - bought a PS2 based on the "potential" of "Metal Gear Solid 2". But I think a lot of people learned a lesson from that, and no longer consider "potential" as a selling point. I know I don't. If there's nothing worth playing for the console, I'll wait until there is. There's no reason to rush out and buy a console early.

Dead or Alive 4? Not exactly... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 8 years ago | (#15721566)

It was widely believed by Microsoft Japan that Dead or Alive 4 would save the system at launch, though really, how naive is that?

Microsoft was almost right. Watch the Xbox360 sales go up a notch when Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 [tecmo.co.jp] is released. Go download [ign.com] the trailer, it's worth it.

Re:Dead or Alive 4? Not exactly... (1)

Kuukai (865890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15725440)

And herein lies the problem. If Nintendo is actively targeting a diverse market of non-gamers, Microsoft is actively targetting a narrow slice of already-gamers. Chick-craved boys make of less of the market than they used to, and even plenty of those aren't willing to shell out 44,000 yen just to get a 360 and DOA. I remember that Microsoft at one point said they were going to make the 360 "less dependant on that sort of thing" than the last Xbox (the one that had a version in Japan that came with Kasumi pillowcase), but they've done nothing of the sort. Like the article says, they depend on DOA games to sell the system. The series's main publicized competitor while I was in Japan was Rumble Roses for the PS2, so Microsot snaged it for 360. That's right, they bought more crack! I thought you were off the crack Microsoft, I'm so ashamed! I really do think Microsoft could do a lot better in Japan if they tried to push out some solid franchises that don't rely on sex appeal yet are popular in Japan. When it's harder to find an Xbox than a Sega Saturn, you know you're catering to a small group of enthusiasts...

There is no xBox in Japan (1)

gullevek (174152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15722875)

Let's take Yodobashi Camera in Kawaski. TV Gemu Floor. Xbox. Tow little shelves, filled with a lot of space and some games. No xbox game on the "new release table" in ages.

PS2. Well at least more than half of the area. PSP, DS, Game Cube take rest. Tip of the hot game. On PSP and DS the top sellers are brain train games. I don't know for the PS2, but I guess some RPG. xbox 360, nobody cares.

And know someting completly different. Get Loco Roco, that game kicks ass (PSP)
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