Since the original Xbox was launched in 2001, the series of consoles have gone on to become some of the most popular gaming devices on the planet. The Xbox One has sold more than 50 million units alone. Despite its success in most countries, the Xbox has actually struggled for popularity in Japan since its launch. Let us take a closer look at how popular the console is in Japan today.
Japan Is the Fastest-growing Market for Xbox
In an IGN article published in June 2021, Jeremy Hinton, the head of Xbox’s Asia region, stated Japan is the Xbox’s fastest-growing market worldwide; having seen phenomenal growth in the last year. That is partially down to the fact that independent developers in Japan are creating more games for Xbox and a change in taste among Japanese gamers. Hinton said the majority of Xbox sales in Japan were coming from people who had never owned an Xbox before. He also stated that demand for the Xbox is high, and stores see stock sell out within minutes.
Contrary to western tastes, the Xbox Series S is the most popular version sold in Japan, which is smaller and less powerful. But Japanese culture loves all things small and cute, which is probably one reason why that model appeals so much. It probably also helps that it costs less than other Xbox models.
How popular is Xbox in Japan really?
Japan is the home of video games, so it is no surprise that Japanese gamers love to play a wide variety of games on a broad range of devices, as well as playing fun online casino games on sites like カスモボーナス (Casumo Bonus). And according to Jeremy Hinton, it certainly sounds as though the Xbox is becoming more popular in Japan all the time. However, that was certainly not always the case, and as Hinton himself has said, the uptake in Xbox among Japanese people is a very recent phenomenon. Also, just because Japan is the fastest-growing market for Xbox, it does not mean it is anywhere near as popular as other consoles in Japan. Only when official statistics for console sales in Japan from 2020 to 2021 are available will we have a better idea of exactly how popular the Xbox now is in the Land of the Rising Sun.
According to the International Data Corporation, out of the 46.9 million Xbox consoles sold throughout the world in the second quarter of 2019, only 0.3% were in Japan! And according to The Xbox Hub, the year before in 2018, gamers in Japan downloaded 28,000 games for Xbox One. In comparison, in the same year, Japanese gamers purchased 10.9 million PlayStation 4 games and 13.6 million Nintendo Switch games. The differences are staggering. Compared to Sony and Nintendo, Microsoft’s Xbox somewhat pails into insignificance.
The Japanese Market Has Always Been Tough for Xbox
Xbox has always had a tough time in Japan. When Microsoft released the console in the United States in 2001, it quickly became the console gaming giant of the world. But in Japan, Microsoft had to convince gamers to overcome their skepticism regarding many elements of the Xbox.
For instance, Japanese gamers were not keen on the console’s bulky design. Furthermore, Microsoft had a hard time convincing Japanese developers to make Xbox games. In fact, one of the main problems for why the Xbox has never historically sold well in Japan is due to the plain and simple fact that most Japanese gamers prefer playing games made in Japan, and the Xbox did not have Japanese game developers on its side. However, exclusive games like Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon sold well for Xbox 360, and Microsoft did reach out to major Japanese game developers like Hideki Kamiya and Keiji Inafune.
Kamiya created Scalebound, and Inufane developed ReCore for the Xbox One. So, the Xbox has had successes in Japan and with developing Japanese games. But the Xbox is still generally unpopular when compared to the sales of other consoles in Japan. Of course, that is one of the main reasons why the Xbox did not fly off the shelves in Japan. It had to compete with other consoles made by Japanese companies.
Furthermore, one reason the Xbox One did not sell upon its launch in Japan is that it was released in North America in November 2013 but did not launch in Japan until nearly a year later, in September 2014. That meant most gamers in Japan had already bought the PlayStation 4 by the time the Xbox One came out. Also, the Japanese gamers who did want an Xbox rather than a PS4 imported the devices from America, which significantly contributed to the poor sales of the Xbox One in Japan when it was finally launched. So, Microsoft could have helped to prevent such disasters by simply releasing the Xbox One in Japan at the same time as in America.
According to Jeremy Hinton, it looks as though gamers are finally coming around to gaining a fondness for the Xbox though, and if the trend in Japan continues, perhaps it could begin outselling consoles by Nintendo and Sony in the near future. However, sales for Xbox in Japan are still very poor compared to Nintendo and Sony at the moment, so the Xbox has a lot of work to do if it is to really become popular in Japan.