Why can't Microsoft sell Xbox consoles and games in Japan?

While Microsoft has sold tens of millions of Xbox game consoles in North American and European market, the company has had little success in selling Xbox consoles and games in Japan, home to Sony and Nintendo. Indeed, a report back in 2011 stated that the Xbox 360 console had only sold 1.5 million units in Japan since its launch six years before. Today, a new and extensive article takes a look at the reasons why Microsoft has failed to break into the game console hotbed of Japan.

Eurogamer's feature features a number of people who worked at Microsoft in 2001 for the launch of the original Xbox, including former third party developer head Kevin Bachus and former head of Microsoft Game Studios Ed Fries. They tell stories of Japanese developers who were afraid of upsetting Sony and Nintendo. Fries also indicated there were cultural differences. He said:

We were told we couldn't call it the Xbox because X is the letter of death. We were told we couldn't make it black because black is the color of death. I was like, isn't the PlayStation black? Rules that apply to you as an outsider don't necessarily apply to insider products.

This year, Microsoft decided not to attend the annual Tokyo Game Show for the first time since the original Xbox launched. However, Fries believes that Microsoft should continue to try to break into the Japanese market for the next version of the console. He believes Sony is weaker than it has been in the past and that Nintendo is sticking with low powered hardware for its Wii U. He added: "There's room for it to be the biggest, most powerful machine. With the Japanese game market not as strong, maybe Japanese gamers are more open to western content."

Source: Eurogamer | Image via Eurogamer

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