Microsoft is having one of its best years ever for gaming. A strong showing at E3 2021, huge success with Xbox Game Pass, and competitive Gen 9 console sales are leading Microsoft to record profits and revenue for its gaming division. However, there's still a lot of work to do.
Historically, Microsoft has been very U.S.- and UK-centric. Regions outside of Microsoft's familiar Anglo territories are notoriously smaller in footprint, owing to years and years of neglect in Microsoft's wider strategy. I've covered Microsoft's patchy localization effort before, and to be fair, Microsoft has begun to respond. The Xbox Store has received additional features to help people find out whether a game supports their local language, for example, but the problems still run quite deep.
To that end, a new community has begun growing on Discord, called the Xbox Community Hub, filled with people from all regions, languages, and nationalities to share their grievances over the differences between Microsoft's different local offerings. The community there has produced an open letter to Microsoft, explaining their position, while also putting up a petition to try and get a response from Microsoft on its plans and roadmap for better regional support.
Today, for most of these communities Xbox is not there. The home we found seems to be abandoned with little to no services, and it can be difficult to get new consoles and support. Our hope grows thinner and our courage weaker. We are still suffering from the wrecks that were brought to you.
Community and regional leaders from dozens of countries around the world gathered as one single voice. Where before we felt so powerless from speaking alone, now we speak as one soul, and we ask you: please listen. We all want to be fully supported members of the Xbox family!
The open letter inside the petition details some of the requests, including support for things like Microsoft Rewards and contests, better stocking, increased local presence, features like Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming, and a roadmap for localization features.
While there are some geopolitical issues that prevent Microsoft from operating in certain countries, due to government sanctions for example, Microsoft is gradually expanding its Azure footprint over time. Microsoft is rumored to be opening four more data centers in China, which will help it deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to the region. Microsoft is also actively working with governments in the Asia-Pacific to unify cybersecurity policies and standards, which will help it to ultimately navigate complex legislative issues that prevent it from operating locally.
Regardless, there's still a lot that Microsoft could be doing in regions it's already in to improve support, and ultimately hit that 2-billion gamer North Star it often talks about in its marketing beats. Xbox will expand outside of the U.S. and UK only with proper, serious support. A bit of transparency engaging the grassroots worldwide community is one way to ensure Microsoft can overcome the historical problems in its attempts to break into Japan and other regions.
Update June 29, 2021: A Microsoft spokesperson has responded to our request for comment on this petition.
"We strive to deliver the best experience for Xbox fans around the world so everyone can feel included and at home when they play. Earlier this year, we unveiled supported language tags that are available for hundreds of titles and are viewable on the Microsoft Store on Xbox and in the Xbox Game Pass app. With this update players can find titles that contain in-game language support, across 27 languages, in their preferred language. We are always looking at players' needs and preferences and we recognize that localization is a key factor for players. Localization is important to us and is something we are actively working to improve."
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