Everything major Xbox leaders Phil Spencer and Sarah Bond discussed at the Tokyo Game Show

Phil Spencer at Tokyo Game Show
(Image credit: Microsoft)

This week, Microsoft took to the Tokyo Game Show in a big way, revealing a range of new Xbox games partnerships, reiterating a commitment to the Japanese gaming market and Xbox titles for fans of Japanese games

In support of the show, Xbox leaders Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer and Xbox CVP Sarah Bond took to various press outlets to discuss the future of the Xbox platform, and how they intend to grow its Japanese footprint. Here's everything major the Xbox team revealed from various outlets, compiled with help from games news Twitter maestro @HazzadorGamin.

Do note, some of the responses come via translation, and may lack some contextual nuance. 

Xbox hails growth in Japan

Xbox Series S Console

(Image credit: Matt Brown | Windows Central)

It's no secret that Xbox has grown its footprint in Japan in recent years. The Xbox Series S and Xbox Game Pass one-two-punch has helped Xbox outstrip its Xbox One sales in a single year, but Microsoft has also managed to attract major Japanese franchises like Yakuza and Persona. 

Phil Spencer had an interview with game.watch.impress.co.jp and discussed a range of topics, including how Xbox is positioning in Japan. 

"Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S have been potent launches, but Japan has also received strong support from game creators and the community. We see still work to be done and there are many opportunities, and we look forward to continuing to invest and strengthen our position in Japan. We are grateful for the support of the Japan gaming community."

When asked why Xbox seems to be doing so well, Spencer pointed to the Xbox Series S affordability, alongside the combination of Xbox Game Pass. "I think that's why the Xbox Series S is so attractive as a game console of this generation. After all, it is cheap, and I think that makes it easy for new users. It also works well with Xbox Game Pass, and this combination may be creating new value." Spencer conceded that Xbox has made a lot of mistakes in Japan, and that some of those mistakes are helping shape the strategy for the future. "That's a lot [of mistakes] (laughs). I think we talked about bringing Japan back to Tier 1 at X019, but with the launch of Xbox Series X, Japan also joined the global launch, receiving services and equivalents [at the same time]. We've been investing a lot of time, and talking to creators and the community. These are things we've learned from our failures on Xbox One, and there's no doubt that our experience in the Japan market is what helps us today."

In the same interview, Spencer reiterated his commitment to the current Xbox price points, sidestepping Sony's price hike on the PlayStation 5. Spencer also discussed improving the sustainability and power consumption on future Xbox Series S|X revisions as part of Microsoft's climate commitments. Spencer also mentioned the Xbox Series X stocks problems, saying that availability would continue to be constrained potentially until the end of 2023. 

Xbox discusses Final Fantasy XIV, Scalebound, and third-party exclusives


(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the biggest and most contentious issues facing Xbox with regards to Japanese growth is support from Japanese developers. Microsoft is making massive inroads here, however. Guilty Gear, Street Fighter, Persona, Yakuza, Suikoden, and other games were confirmed for Xbox this past week, many of which were historically PlayStation exclusive. Naturally, Microsoft still has work to do, and the team agrees. 

Speaking again with game.watch, Spencer reiterated his commitment to bringing Final Fantasy XIV Realm Reborn to Xbox. FFXIV is one of the world's biggest subscription exclusive MMOs and is currently available only on PC and PlayStation. Microsoft itself seemed to indicate that FFXIV was heading to Xbox a few years ago, although Square Enix has since disputed the claim. "Naturally, we have not given up [getting FFXIV onto Xbox] yet. This is a commitment from both Microsoft and Square Enix to their gaming fans, and we will continue to make adjustments."

Spencer also reiterated that there's nothing to say about Xbox's cancelled "Scalebound" project with Platinum Games at the moment, despite Hideki Kamiya's previous comments that he'd be willing to give it another shot.

Spencer noted that improved feedback dialogue with Japanese developers is contributing to the gradual improvement of support from Japanese developers, also noting that Xbox Game Pass has also played a big role in driving new value for both developers and consumers. "I think Xbox Game Pass was also big part. For example, when we proposed that a franchise that had not previously been developed on Xbox be included in Xbox Game Pass, it was well received worldwide. In that case, we hope publishers and creators will feel that response and continue to release on Xbox. Then, the fan base of the franchise will increase on the Xbox platform, and that fan will also buy new works... it's a good cycle."

Original Japanese Xbox games like Lost Odyssey 

In an interview with IGN Japan, Spencer was joined by Xbox CVP Sarah Bond to discuss a wide range of topics. Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon of the Xbox 360 came up, from Microsoft's earlier attempts to court Japanese interest. Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon were JRPGs exclusive to and funded by Xbox, and Microsoft has since dropped efforts to build original Japanese content, but that situation is gradually changing. Sarah Bond emphasized that more content in this vein is on the way: "One of the things that we're super excited about is that we have over 250 developers in Japan making games for Xbox right now. 150 have already shipped. 100 are in Xbox Game Pass, and we got to announce 15 games made in Asia, 13 from Japan in our show. There's even more that's going to come in the future, and I can't wait to reveal it all." 

To that end, in similar comments with Famitsu, Spencer hailed the partnership with Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear and Death Stranding fame. Kojima is known to be working on an Xbox exclusive, reportedly named "Overdose," although little is known about the project.

"I've just met with [Hideo] Kojima from Kojima Productions and many other game creators to talk about bringing unique titles to Xbox. I understand that a lot of game fans want [exclusive Japanese games] like that. I also want a Japan-styled game. As a common goal of the Xbox team, we are focused on creating such titles, so please look forward to it."

Phil Spencer and Sarah Bond rock it in Japan

Microsoft's continued commitment to the Japanese market will help shore up one of Xbox's weakest areas in recent years, as more and more third-party games head to the platform. The affordability of the Xbox Series S coupled with the value of Xbox Game Pass is bringing new users to the Xbox platform, and creating fresh opportunities for developers, especially when you factor in Xbox Cloud Gaming's potential in an increasingly mobile world. 

Phil Spencer, Sarah Bond, and the rest of the Xbox team showed up in force in Japan, and the state of Xbox in Japan looks set to only improve. 

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!