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Microsoft must do better in Japan

Development and publishing houses voice their concerns

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

The Japanese market is very different to the American and European ones, and that's something Microsoft must understand in order to be successful in the land of the rising sun. A report from today echoes what we said at the beginning of the month, that Microsoft must invest more in Japan and devote more attention to distribution channels to generate sales and interest. The PlayStation 2 has been enormously successful in Japan, and it is absolutely critical that Microsoft play onside with the gaming giant on its own turf. As we reported, local software companies like Konami, Capcom, Squaresoft and more are all loyal to Sony, and as Capcom's Keiji Inafune said at the time, "Japanese video-game developers cannot afford to invest aggressively in making Xbox games because Microsoft has yet to show its specific intentions, such as what age demographic it is targeting." Microsoft has taken proactive steps in the last few weeks, explaining their business strategy for Japan to a gathering of executives at a Tokyo hotel, but believes that it still left some unsatisfied. One unnamed executive said that his company has been "urging [Microsoft] to promote the machine aggressively, but they are too stubborn". The Redmond-based firm has decided to use Bandai subsidiary Happinet and the software arm of Softbank to centralise distribution in Japan, something which has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many. To put it bluntly, this means that big Japanese retailers "will have to show their business information to the competition" according to one executive. "This is not good." The amount of people eager to speak ill of Microsoft's distribution plans should be remarkable, but their attempts to remain anonymous are quite telling as well. After all, most of the market is loyal to Sony - it wouldn't take too much pampering from the console giant before certain executives decided to voice their "concerns" about Microsoft. Perhaps we're too harsh, but that's certainly what it sounds like. Outspoken critique from companies close to the industry is important - anonymity merely confuses observers. Microsoft's answer to all this? "We do not believe we are at the point where we need to start marketing yet. We will do it when the time is right." The Xbox - Who do you want to frustrate today? Related Feature - Xbox to be delayed in Japan?

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