Good news, Japanese gamers eagerly awaiting the release of the Xbox One! Microsoft has revealed that its next-gen system will release in the country on September 4, 2014, meaning that you'll be able to get your hands on the highly anticipated... no, I can’t keep this up. We all know that this is just Microsoft going through the motions; keeping up appearances. Releasing in Japan is just something you do when you're a console maker, and Microsoft is going to do it. Thing is, Microsoft releasing the Xbox One in Japan isn't really worthwhile, and will cost the company resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
That might sound a little pessimistic, but the numbers don't lie: Xbox hasn’t found any amount of success in Japan. Ever. The original Xbox sold around 2 million units there, and the Xbox 360 performed even worse, shipping just under 1.7 million units. Most agree that the Wii U is struggling, right? To date, it has already outsold the Xbox 360's lifetime sales in Japan. It is, without exaggeration, safe to say that people in Japan want an Xbox in their homes about as much as they want meat-flavored soda (in that, there are likely between 1.7 and 2 million people who would buy it. Look, Japan is… unique.).
And it wasn't for a lack of trying. Last generation especially, Microsoft did its best to get Japanese gamers on board. It wrangled huge JRPG exclusives like Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey in an attempt to lure in fans of Dragon's Quest and Final Fantasy, and stole some franchises away from PlayStation exclusivity. Final Fantasy and Devil May Cry, both of which perform well in Japan, released on the Xbox 360, helping to create an Xbox that had as much content for Japanese gamers as the PlayStation did. But nothing worked. Meat. Flavored. Soda.
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So, what is it doing this time around? What will make the Xbox One succeed where the Xbox and Xbox 360 failed? From the looks of it… very little. It's bigger, more expensive, and more focused on games that cater to Western audiences. Microsoft's Phil Spencer promised that a "unique exclusive title for Xbox One is going to be released by an awesome Japanese studio," but if high-quality JRPGs couldn't lure Japanese gamers in 2005, just showing up on shelves isn't going to make a difference in 2014.
Which begs the question: Why bother? Console sales, in general, aren't doing too well in Japan (both the PS4 and Wii U are struggling). Some have said that there's a chance Japanese developers like Konami, Capcom, and Square Enix would back away from Xbox development if the system wasn't released in Japan, but that doesn't really make sense. Even after it was obvious that the Xbox 360 wasn't going to succeed in Japan, developers continued to support it with big games--and so long as the Xbox One does well in the US/UK, they'd likely continue to.
The Xbox 360 did well without Japanese success, and the Xbox One can, too. Any amount of time and money spent localizing games, reworking the UI, and marketing the system could go towards creating more AAA games--something that Microsoft needs a lot more than a presence in a country that (historically) doesn't give a damn about its console.