Microsoft launched the Xbox One in Japan this week, and the country is still recovering from nobody even realizing. Seriously, I didn’t even know until after the fact. No advertisements on TV or anything of the sort. It just… it happened? Really?
Japanese gaming site Inside was on location at the midnight launch event in downtown Tokyo, which went off happily enough. However, a photo collection it gathered from lines around the next day by Kotaku shows pretty much what you would expect from the enthusiasm of the Xbox brand name in Japan. Yes, it’s a work day, and true, the PlayStation 4 isn’t exactly lighting up the charts in its home country either, but deep down inside, we all kind of expected this.
These depressing empty queues are not exactly the kind of insanity you see for a Yokai Watch or a Dragon Quest game, are they? It can be argued that people shop on the Internet nowadays, but once you’ve come and seen kids and adults alike line up for video games or pretty much any new product like they do in Japan, you’ll lose your footing on that argument.
For what it’s worth, Microsoft did a pretty decent job in the first year of the Xbox One trying to score some points with the Japanese audience. It picked up Panzer Dragoon creator Yukio Futatsugi and gave him the opportunity to work his magic in a spiritual successor Crimson Dragon. A remake of his cult hit Phantom Dust was also announced at E3 last year.
Microsoft also scored Deadly Premonition writer/director Hidetaka “SWERY” Suehiro for the Kinect powered D4, and it even snagged the big fish of the bunch, Devil May Cry and Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya of Platinum Games, for the Xbox One exclusive action game, Scalebound.
Again, it’s a decent attempt that doesn’t seem to have paid off as well as Microsoft might have liked. I don’t think its any coincidence that the day before the Xbox One’s release, Sony held a “pre-TGS 2014 press conference” announcing that the PlayStation 4 would finally pick up with the Japanese catered releases like Persona 5, Dragon Quest: Heroes, Ys, Disgaea 5, Hot Shots Golf, and Yakuza Zero.
You know, just to twist the knife even before it went in.
It’s not unexpected, but if it is any consolation, I still really want to play Scalebound and D4 if I ever pick up an Xbox One. Japan just hasn’t and will never come around to the brand name.