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Xbox Doesn’t Have a Japanese Problem

It’s age-old, and muttered in concerned tones whenever the topic gets brought up: Xbox just doesn’t do well in Japan. This week, Microsoft proved that chestnut wrong.


There was an inevitability about this topic, thanks partly to Sony’s massive success in the PS3 era and the Xbox One’s lack of success in the east last generation.

Now that is changing. Thanks to hard work behind the scenes and the addition of the Series S, Xbox is on its way to being a truly viable option in Japan. And that’s good news for western players too.

Because when this stuff goes right, it means variety, competition and fun.

Imagining the Impossible

Not only is the “Japanese problem” a regular feature in console wars, it’s also a surefire way to upset an Xbox fan. Mainstream Japanese games have historically avoided the platform. Actually, that’s not really true. But it doesn’t take much to name so titles that make it seem that way.

Final Fantasy VII Remake is, for no obvious reason, still not available on Xbox. Nioh is sadly missing. Street Fighter V. Final Fantasy XIV.

And even in the last few months we’ve seen new titles or been reminded of previously announced titles that would not be coming to Xbox. Final Fantasy XVI, Octopath Traveller 2 and Triangle Strategy will all be skipping Microsoft’s console. Resident Evil 4 will be coming to PlayStation 4 but not to Xbox One. The new Silent Hill remake is rumoured to be a timed PlayStation exclusive, although you all know we don’t talk about that.

I could go on and one. Some of these are paid. Others are just developers not seeing the sense in releasing their niche Japanese game on a niche (in Japan) console.

Things are Changing on Xbox

But all of that is ignoring the incredible Japanese content that we’re now getting on Xbox. It’s ignoring all the Yakuza games, the fact that we’re getting Persona very soon. At their Tokyo Game Show stream alone, a bevy of unlikely announcements were made. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle and Guilty Gear -Strive- will be on Xbox, and on Game Pass. Ni No Kuni shadow-dropped on the service, and its sequel will hit the console next year. Danganronpa V3 shadow-dropped too. Palworld was revealed as coming to Xbox and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes was given a deeper look.

These are the kinds of games that make Xbox stand out in Japan, and it’s fantastic. These less mainstream experiences might not make up for losing Final Fantasy VII Remake on the surface, but those kinds of games are playable everywhere. Show that the more Japanese-focussed content is available on Xbox, and even through Game Pass, and you start to change the conversation about what that means for Japanese players.

Ultimately, this leads to it being a more viable platform, and, hopefully, publishers start seeing it as worth porting to.

Add in the inevitable purchase of some Japanese publishers or developers, and Microsoft’s Japanese problem will definitely be a thing of the past. This week we got a look at the future, and it was pretty awesome.


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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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Twitter: @matgrowcott