The state of Japanese games on Xbox is absolutely dismal- arguably, it has never been worse before than it is now, with the PS4 gobbling up the bulk of Japanese games, and the Switch running as a strong second place contender. The Xbox One is left with nothing, outside of admittedly high profile support from Bandai Namco and Capcom.
People have long speculated as to the reasons for this- and many have pointed out that a part of this might have to do with the fact that Japanese developers simply don’t want to support Xbox any more. However, speaking to MCV UK, NIS America president and CEO Takuro Yamashita explained that Microsoft doesn’t seem to be fostering as healthy an environment for Japanese games as they could be.
“Honestly speaking, Microsoft’s approach to Japanese games hasn’t been very supportive,” he said “Microsoft, you know, for Japanese games, there’s still a very niche element to them, no matter what it might be. Microsoft also has a minimum order quantity for their games, and their whole structure isn’t really geared toward niche games or smaller games like Japanese titles, so they’re not really supportive of Japanese games or developers.”
However, NISA doesn’t want to rule out Xbox One support entirely. “We always try and pay attention to demand and see where our fan base is,” senior associate producer Alan Costa said. “We’re obviously not opposed to trying new things. Disgaea 5 on Switch was one of those and it paid off, which is why we’re definitely moving forward with that. I think that if the right game presented itself – a game that already had a certain level of awareness for people – we’d definitely be interested in giving it a chance, but it’s a chicken and egg problem.”
There may be many Xbox fans who will want to come in and claim that Japanese games and support are too niche to matter anyway- however, they would be wrong, as the persistent success of Japanese games (two of the three highest rated games this year are Japanese, and most major game releases of the year are Japanese), and Microsoft’s own repeated concessions that Japanese games matter (which is why Phil Spencer keeps going to Japan to solicit Japanese creators for Xbox, why he openly admitted he would like games like Persona and Nier on the system, and why Microsoft spends time on Japanese games like Dark Souls, DragonBall FighterZ, and Final Fantasy on stage each E3) are evidence of that.
Japanese games matter, and Xbox does not have enough of those- Microsoft needs to address this problem, and it needs to do so fast.