SEPT. 26, 2014 • Japanese gamers appear to be taking a lukewarm view of the new Xbox One. Microsoft Corp.’s latest console debuted on September 4 in Japan and took the No. 1 spot on Media Create’s weekly chart at 25,674 sold. Seven days later units sold dropped to 3,015, and in its third week the number of Japan Xbox One’s moved at retail was 1,314. When the Xbox 360 was launched in Japan during 2005 it sold more than 62,000 units in two days. The Japan Xbox One sells for ¥39,980 ($365) without the Kinect, and ¥49,980 ($457) with the motion sensor. The console launched in Japan with 29 titles.
Impact: Weak Xbox One sales in Japan do not surprise us. First, the major trend is toward portable gaming systems such as the Nintendo 3DS and PS Vita; second, in Japan hot titles drive hardware sales. Of the seven Xbox One exclusives in Japan none are Japanese developed and only one, Titanfall, seems to have been of any interest to consumers there. Between bundled and retail distribution, Titanfall moved 22,416 copies the first week in release. In subsequent weeks the game fell off the charts. That tells us the people who wanted to play Titanfall went out and got their Xbox Ones and that was about it for the system in the country. Microsoft focused on Japan-specific titles for the Xbox 360 but it did not move the needle much, so with the Xbox One it seems they are not making much of an effort. The original Xbox sold under a million units in Japan and DFC did not have high hopes for the 360 there. The arrival of homegrown RPGs such as Namco Bandai’s Tales of Vesperia attracted gamers and boosted Xbox 360 sales above the PlayStation 3 for a time. By February of this year over 1.6 million Xbox 360s have been sold in Japan, which is more than the one million DFC had forecasted back in 2008. However, this still made Japan very much a secondary market and those numbers are not very impressive overall. There is nothing inherently wrong with the Xbox One as hardware to keep it from selling well in Japan. But as long as Microsoft declines to offer Japanese titles, and the vast majority of its content catalog can be played on the PlayStation, the Xbox One will languish in Japan.