Microsoft’s Xbox consoles have traditionally sold extremely poorly in Japan, but that might be about to change.
Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s executive president of gaming, recently gave an interview to Japanese gaming outlet Famitsu. From the sound of things, it seems that Microsoft is planning to create its next new console with the Japanese markets in mind.
According to the interview (as translated by SegmentNext), Microsoft has been in close contact with a number of hardware development companies, including some notable Japanese developers. In particular, Microsoft is interested in the “innovations” Japanese developers want to see brought to the Xbox that could make the console more appealing to the gaming industry.
Spencer added that the new console, whatever it may be, would of course try and improve on the general performance of games, allowing for better resolutions and frame rates. However, the next console will ideally be “significantly better” than before in its overall design, and part of that can come from the “strong bond” he’s been trying to build with Japanese publishers and developers.
Traditionally, Xbox sales in Japan have been fairly abysmal. In 2016, former Microsoft executive Robbie Bach lamented that Microsoft had spent any time wooing Japanese markets at all, saying that it “distracted” Microsoft from areas where the company could have actually made progress.
“It’s a question of where you have assets and where you don’t have assets. And we had no assets in Japan,” Bach said at the time.
To get an idea of just how lousy sales have been, just a few months before Bach’s complaint, 2016 saw a week where Microsoft sold only 99 Xbox One consoles in Japan. Comparatively, the Wii U (which was on its last legs) sold 15,000 consoles, the last-gen PlayStation 3 sold nearly 2,000 consoles, and the PlayStation 4 moved a whopping 25,000 consoles in the same space of time. With that in mind, it seems that any added connections Microsoft can bring will be an improvement to the Xbox’s performance in Japan.
We currently don’t know anything more on Microsoft’s future console generations.