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Recognized game and anime editor says Xbox isn't supportive of Japanese games

Why is that the case though? Well, in a recent interview between MCV and NIS America's president Takuro Yamashita, part of the reason behind this may have been revealed.

NIS America, also known as Nippon Ichi Software, is an American video game editor and anime company that brings licensed content to North America and Europe. They're known for localizing Japanese games and anime to the United States. While we always knew that Xbox lacked mindshare in Japan and that impacted game and hardware sales, there is another reason which leads to problems when Japanese developers want to bring their games to Microsoft's consoles.

Yamashita said that Microsoft has strict requirements when publishing to Xbox. He said that Microsoft requires a minimum order when publishing on their devices. For niche games which may not have a massive following in the United States, especially with Xbox One owners, that minimum amount is way above what they expect to sell. Even if they're committed to bringing their games to the console, the requirements are just too much. Even if publishers were to look past the low popularity of the Xbox One in Japan—the main factor—this requirement prevents them from bringing games over.

NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata (Image credit: Square Enix)

The lack of Xbox sales in Japan has also led Microsoft not to put as much importance on the country. At the end of the day it's still a business. However, this has also led to Japanese developers thinking that Microsoft isn't interested in the region or its games. The fact that the company stopped making deals like Blue Dragon (opens in new tab) and Lost Odyssey (opens in new tab), and canceled Scalebound, didn't go over well. All of these factors have caused a lot of Japanese developers to be skeptical of the publisher.

Microsoft head for gaming Phil Spencer recently went to Japan and mentioned talking to partners. Hopefully, they brought up the requirement concern and so that at least one barrier is lifted. Unfortunately, there's not much Microsoft can do about the lack of mindshare in Japan because of numerous cultural and image factors, but that doesn't mean all hope is lost. PlayStation titles like Nioh, Nier Automata, and Persona have taken people by surprise and prove to be surprisingly popular even to Western audiences.

It'll take many years for Japanese developers to come back to Microsoft's platform but it has to start somewhere. Here's hoping Microsoft knows this and how important it is for the image of the console around the world, and even in the United States among gamers who crave this variety.

Keep an eye on WindowsCentral.com/Gaming for all the latest in Xbox and Windows 10 gaming, accessories, news, and reviews!

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

33 Comments
  • Just tell Microsoft you want to put the game in the cloud and connect to office 365 and they'll be all over those devs..... /s
  • HAHAHAHA
  • I have to call bull on these statements. I can get not releasing a game physically due to a high minimum requirement for game orders but they don't even digitally release games on the Xbox. Unless you are talking about established franchises like Final Fantasy or games based on popular anime, I've seen almost no effort whatsoever from Japanese devs to even engage the Xbox community.
     
    All games and by extension the gamers who like Japanese games have been funnelled to Playstation for the past few years and now the Switch is getting support (especially with digital only games) despite being a brand new system.
  • It is bull. They know Xbox has a small footprint in Japan so they could care less. There was no risk with Nier and other Japanese games because they were being released on Playstation. Playstation has a strong presence in Japan and worldwide. There was no risk with smaller devs releasing on it. Japanese back their brand plain and simple.
  • It's sad because the Xbox 360 had fantastic support. Many current Vita and PS4 ports like Steins;Gate originally were only available in the West on Xbox 360... Years later somehow that changed and all those games left Xbox for sony. Which is a shame. They aren't even available on Xbox backwards compatible... The fact Xbox 360 had steins gate and PS3 didn't at the time. And Xbox one now has nothing like that---blows my mind
  • Correction, the Xbox 360 had great support until the PS3 started doing well, then Japanese devs dropped it like a hot potato to support their home system.  Try being an Xbox fan and emailing or tweeting a Japanese company about games.  Expect to get politely ignored.  Developers in every other country in the world find a way to release games on the Xbox but Japan is special.  PS4, PC, and Xbox One are closer than ever before but somehow, the Xbox alone is extra hard to make games for.  And as you said, they can't even be bothered to let us play games via backwards compatibility (For example, see SquareEnix remastering Star Ocean 4 for the PS4 and PC when it was originally published on the 360 first).  It is needlessly frustrating.
  • PC.
  • Microsoft should just make small Japanese games digital-only releases. With all of the small indie games in the store, why not add some Japanese games to the mix? Low risk for all parties.
  • But there is no issue with that. Gonig digital only is publisher's decision. Microsoft doesn't care. They even agree to later release games on BluRay is they are successful, heck - even Minecraft went through such cycle before it was their software.
  • Im never and really not worried about any japanese games developers...why? Nothing interesting for me.
  • It's really depends on whether Microsoft want to try hard. I know some people used to argue that Japanese don't accept company from outside, but the fact is iPhone dominants in Japan. If it's not due to Xbox 360 poor quality, the story could be totally different. Xbox One has too little Japanese style games, and thus no way to success in Japan. I don't know if there's any limitation for digital-only release (when it is not indie), as we see more and more Japanese games are released on PS4 and Steam, but not Xbox One. In another word, they want to release the game in digital format in English, but not on Xbox One platform. Some may due to deal with Sony, but I don't think all of them. I also don't think most Japanese game company want to be called as indie, no matter how small the company is. They still want to be considered as company. There is also a large community in Japan (doujin game), which is more similar to the concept of indie in my opinion, and that may be why.
  • The iPhone is the sole exception and not the norm, it's due to a combination of global pressure where the rest of the developed world is standardising on a platform and the complete lack of software skills in Japan causing the Japanese mobile market to cave from within.  A similar thing happened when DOS/Windows took over and bet the PC-9800 computers in Japan during the 80s.  However the XBox has no such advantage to speak of, and the same situation such as the iPhone is difficult, if ever, to repeat itself again. 
  • .3% of all cars sold in Japan in 2016 were U.S. name plates, the vast majority sold were domestic...Loyalty and nationalism run deep in Japan.
  • I hope Microsoft would work closely with the Japanese industry. Games like Persona, Gravity Rush, etc. are the main reason why I have no intention of leaving the PS4 Pro for the One X, despite the former lacking the ability to play 4K Blu-ray Discs.
  • Well, in Creators Collection are tiny games. Why those Japanese whiners won't use that? Also, now we know why Lawbreakers is not on Xbox. When a game is expected to sell 74 copies, the problem is clear.
  • Lawbreakers is a dead game all by itself. Also devs said if the game did well on PC and ps4 it will come to xbox. So u cant blame MS for a mediocre game that isnt doing well.
  • Microsoft has tried several times to work with Japanese developers, I don't blame them for not trying anymore. Japanese back their brand. There's no risk for small devs to develop games on Playstation. It is the console leader this generation, but most importantly, it has an install base in Japan. Who'd risk releasing on Xbox when you know for sure their's no presence in your own country. So you can't even depend on your country to support you. This is just bs to make it seem like it's Microsoft's fault. They've tried before. They've poured money into it. I don't blame them if they didn't try.
  • Dude I been saying it for years but mainstream media will not come out and say what you just mention. Xbox did everything possible to work with Japanese developers. Just recently square screwed them on rise of tomb raider deal by submitting under pressure to say PS4 version be out before Xbox version was released. Ms should invest in a Japanese studio to just make Xbox games but none of the big ones because they screw them over.
  • I dont know why japan is still an important country here.  Xbox can easily recover from North America/South America/European sales.  Sure there are developers/game devs making in Jpn like Square Enix, Capcom and many others but their games tend to sell in other continents anyway, and that's what really matters to me.  Japan isnt as important nowadays as before in the 90's to early 2k.  Most of the western developers have become big enough to support the xbox in other continents and that's all that matters.  Xbox can survive without trying to penetrate japan.  EA, Take-Two, Ubisoft are your top three players that aren't Japan based, and they will continue to pump games for the xbox. Microsoft can survive with or without Japan.  They have done this for the past decade with OG Xbox and Xbox 360(didnt even reach #1).  Now Xbox One and Xbox (Two), etc etc can too.  The gaming industry is always shifting and int he past few years, Japan has lost its ground as king of pumping great titles.  Even Square Enix will continue to support the xbox with games like Tomb Raider (timed exclusive), Final Fantasy, etc.   Nowadays, ****** games like Call of Duty and Battlefield are outselling these Japanese games anyway.  PUBG is comign to xbox, and minecraft is multiplatform.  It doesn't need japan.  If I want to play Japanese games, I can buy nintendo. They are the defintion of Japan gaming culture. I have both nintendo and xbox platform. Btw, NiOH and Nier automata are both on Steam.
     
  • The only Japanese developer worth doing business with is FROM Software. They are an entire generation of talent above other Japanese studios. Too many years of laying on their rump pushing out sequels, and remakes, of the same tired franchises have stunted the creativity and appeal of the well known Japanese studios. FROM Software is a completetly different story. Chromehounds was ahead of its time for online multiplayer, some of its unique gameplay features would still be above a lot of online multiplayer games today. Dark Souls is another one of their i.p.s that had unique online features that arent found in other games. Admittedly Im biased, I played enough whitewashed,emo, spikey hair, with a convuluted story, genre of games in the 90s to last me 3 lifetimes.  
  • Platinum Games, Capcom, and Square Enix are fine too. I think Ninja Theory are awesome as well.
  • I think you're talking about Team Ninja. Ninja Theory are brits.
  • team ninja died when Tomonubu Itagaki left.  Nwo that guy was an xbox fanboy.
  • I disagree, all 3 of those are behind the times in talent.
  • This smells fishy. Anyone whom was heavily invested in the Japanese 360 must remembered what happened during the 360 era.  Microsoft went all out on securing exclusives for the 360 - funding them, helping the developers make games etc, only to have the games with more content and more complete coming out on the PS3 half a year later (Tales of Vesperia anyone?). This became so normal that people saw the games on the 360 first and then just say "I'll wait for the complete PS3 version".   The Japanese publisher back stabbed Microsoft so badly during the 360 era AND caused them to lose a tonne of money in that region (by funding and even helping the developers make the exclusives, yet fail to make a return on them, and then also have the publisher take the product over to PS3, giving them yet another strong local title), it's no wonder why Microsoft became distrustful of Japanese publishers. The Japanese publishers aren't innocent in this area at all, and should freaking stop playing victum. 
  • this is another reason why japan is just one coutnry that we need to stop focusing on. Microsoft would make more money marketing the xbox in South Korea, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand.  These nations are becoming some of Asias 3rd world turning into 1st world nations.  Even now I think that China has lifted the ban on videogames, and majority of the kids there love their "American" brands.  We don't need Japan.  And also more Indie developers are coming out of nowhere from middle east, to south america and some parts of europe where major players don't exist.  Support those indie developers.  They're usually the people with real artistic talent.  Even that POS PUBG is huge now despite it being a HYPED P.O.S. with POS Whiney developers.
  • From my perspective, I totally agree with you. Microsoft SHOULD focus on another area that Microsoft didn't invested in, especially, the fast-growing gaming countries. As I am Thai and stay in Thailand since I was born, I just wish Microsoft would change their mind. Although, I purchase my very own Xbox One S 2TB version from France when I traveled there and I still use and love it everyday. Also, I see a group of people who enjoy their Xbox One and Microsoft's exclusive games, such as Forza. Luckily, managing director of Microsoft Thailand said that he is trying to talk with headquarter to bring Xbox to Thailand. However, so far, Microsoft doesn't seem really care about Thailand's market. As you can guess, PlayStation 4 is a true dominant in Thailand's game market right now and there is not falling anytime soon.
  • Are japanese interested in PS, PC, Wii, Atari or Nintendo?
  • **** 'em.
  • Kettle, meet pot. They've been very clear to MS in years past that they don't want anything to do with the Xbox. Their native PS their almighty Messiah.
  • actually nintendo is king in japan, not sony.  
  • I do remember reading mutliple times that MS doesn't allow "limited run games".  You can even check sites that specialize in selling physical limited run games and not any of them will have Xbox games.  Either way, MS tried many times to crack the Japanese market and was never able to in any way - including bringing JRPGs to the west.
  • Don't forget that Sony owns the patents on the Blu-Ray spec. Outside companies, especially those that are competition like Microsoft won't get the same disc manufacturing deals like Sony and their own licensees. If I were a betting man I'd bet that Microsoft doesn't do limited physical runs because Sony won't make a favorable Blu-Ray manufacturing deal. 360 physical games were DVDs which were (and are) much easier to get manufacturing deals with and could get small print runs made easily.