Xbox chief Phil Spencer talks about improving Xbox One’s popularity in Japan

Kareem Anderson

It is no secret that the Xbox has yet to find a substantial audience in Japan and aptly so, for various reasons. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer believes he may have narrowed down a few key reasons why the Xbox and the Xbox One, in particular, may being doing so poorly in the region.

In an interview with Famitsu magazine, Spencer discusses several topics related to Microsoft’s Xbox division such as the One, Xbox One S, Project Scorpio, and VR and during the interview, he reveals a few tidbits about why the company has been having trouble grabbing a Japanese audience.

How do you feel about the current Xbox One market in Japan? As you have seen it is not doing well in sales, what are your current thoughts regarding this matter?

Phil: Sadly the Xbox One is not living up to the amount of sales I originally thought the country would put out, but with the Xbox One S we will release it in Japan and with the co-operation of many developers we’re hoping to make a giant change in sales compared to the current climate!

What are your personal thoughts on why the Xbox One is not a much bigger name over here in Japan?

Phil: I think it’s due to a lot of games that are released on the console, I feel that a lot of the games are not games that the Japanese public would play and get themselves into. A lot of Japanese gamers really seem to like games such as Persona 5 or Nioh and that is why we decided to get in touch with Japanese developers to create such games as Blue Dragon and Lost Odyssey for the Xbox 360. If we plan on doing better in the Japanese game market, we want to release games that the average Japanese gamer will really enjoy.

You are working close with Japanese developers to create games for the Xbox One, how is it going so far?

Phil: So far we have made friends with a variety of developers that then asked to create games for our system; such as Mr. Inafune Keiji with ReCore & Mr. Kamiya Hideki and the staff from Platinum Games for the development of Scalebound. We plan to talk with many other developers in order to bring more games to the Japanese market; we were happy to announce Final Fantasy XV on the Xbox One which made me extremely happy and as mentioned we plan on a lot more connections.

While it’s been assumed for years that the Xbox’s lineup of games has catered to a very specific market, it’s also very interesting to see the head of the division admit that the console has failed to meet the demands of varied gamers.

Despite Microsoft doing a recent about-face and concentrating on being a more gamer-centric company for a wide variety of users by working to combine platform play between PCs and consoles, it seems Spencer and the Xbox team aren’t entirely sold on competing in the Japanese gaming industry.

Coupled with an earlier lackluster Xbox One release in the Japan, Spencer was careful to say, “If we plan on doing better in the Japanese game market,” rather than “we plan,” it seems the Japanese gaming market will remain on the peripheral while the company figures out a new approach.