Xbox Japan boss pledges local Xbox 2 support

Next-generation success in the Land of the Rising Sun is in reach, believes Cheuk.

The next-generation Xbox will enjoy stronger local software support in the Japanese market, according to Microsoft's Tokyo game development division boss Norman Cheuk, who said that much of the studio's current work is purely positioning.

"It's too late to be number one on this version of the console," Cheuk admitted in an interview with Bloomberg Japan. "A lot of what we're doing today is to position ourselves. We're looking at the future generations where we'd like to be successful."

Despite being generally considered to be a success in North America and Europe, the Xbox has failed to establish any kind of presence in the Japanese market - with sales lagging behind the PS2 by a factor of almost 50 to one, and overall hardware market share of less than one per cent.

Much of that failure has been blamed on a lack of locally developed software, with Microsoft VP of retail sales and entertainment Peter Moore admitting last month that "you could probably argue that if we had a Japanese-centric role-playing game at the beginning of the console life cycle we would probably be in a better position today."

Japan is by far the least important of the three major global territories in terms of actual consumer sales - which are less than half of the sales figures for the USA and Europe - but with many of the world's biggest game software companies headquartered there, it's an important market to establish a console's credibility in.

Microsoft certainly seems committed to developing local software in Japan for its next-generation system, and as well as improving relations with Japanese publishers - a major PR win came at E3 when Square Enix announced that it would consider developing for the Xbox 2 platform - it has focused strongly on building up its own development presence in the Far East.

Cheuk was appointed to head up the development division in Tokyo last September, and heads up a 100-strong team there - with several of the team's designers and engineers being replaced with Japanese talent since he took over, he claims.

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