In 2018, roughly 28,000 download games for the Xbox One were sold in Japan. That same year, the country sold a whopping 10.9 million packaged games for PlayStation 4 and even more for Nintendo Switch – 13.6 million, to be precise. 

Although research from Statista claims the number of PlayStation and Nintendo downloads was significantly smaller than the number of packaged game sales, the opposite is true for the Xbox One. This means that Japan sold fewer than 28,000 packaged Xbox games in the whole of 2018, compared to the millions that customers purchased for PlayStation and Nintendo. 

The difference is staggering clear. Although Xbox and PlayStation have enjoyed a healthy rivalry all over the world, there’s no competition in Japan, where the PlayStation console comes out as an obvious winner. 

Whichever games console you prefer, the Xbox’s lack of popularity in Japan has baffled various experts. After all, people visit casinos online in Japan, taking advantage of the colourful visuals and engaging gameplay of slots, table games and more, while they also enjoy other types of consoles, so the gaming industry as a whole is thriving. This has led many people to wonder whether the Xbox can become more popular – and if so, how? 

In this article, we’ll suggest some ways in which the Xbox could become more popular in Japan. 

  1. Learn From The Japanese Market

The most important thing that Microsoft should do if it wants to boost the popularity of its Xbox in Japan is to learn from the Japanese market. Its main competitor, Sony, is a Japanese company – so it has not needed to do the same level of research in order to understand its consumers. 

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According to an article in Forbes, Japan is very resilient to disruptive companies – mainly due to the strength of its own industry. Companies such as Apple have worked hard to align their business practices with the wants and needs of their Japanese customers. This is something that Microsoft hasn’t (yet) done. 

From the type of games on offer to the tone of the marketing, global companies can’t expect to have a one-size-fits-all business plan. We believe that by understanding what makes the Japanese market so unique, Microsoft may be able to boost the popularity of the Xbox.

  1.  Stop Delaying Its Eastern Releases

Perhaps it’s not surprising that the Xbox One fell flat in Japan. Microsoft launched the console in North America in November 2013, but didn’t release it in Japan until September 2014. This ten-month delay caused significant damage to sales: not only had most gamers already got their hands on the PlayStation 4 (which was ¥10,000 cheaper than the Xbox One), but there were no Xbox-specific games titles to go with the launch. 

To make matters even worse, players who desperately wanted an Xbox One had already imported a device from America. This meant that sales figures stayed incredibly low, even once the console had finally been released.

Final Word

If Microsoft commits to aligning its business strategy with the Japanese market – and stops ignoring its customers there – the Xbox could become more popular. We think Sarah Bond, Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft’s Gaming Ecosystem, put it best when she told IGN magazine: “It was very clear to us out of the gate… that the Xbox One launch had layer after layer of missteps… related to Japan, that we were not going to repeat.” Let’s hope this is the case.

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