Microsoft hungry for more Japanese studios, Sony less interested

While Microsoft is eager to improve its standing in Japan, Sony appears to be moving further away from its home market.

Microsoft and its Xbox consoles have always struggled in Japan, especially now with the Nintendo Switch dominating the market.

The company has made little effort to turn things around in recent years but the imminent release of the Xbox Series X/S seems to have finally pushed them into action.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Microsoft is looking to acquire Japanese studios, big and small, and has apparently already been in talks with certain developers, though they all wished to remain anonymous.

This isn’t too surprising to hear, as Microsoft hasn’t been subtle about its desire for more acquisitions. Xbox head Phil Spencer even said as much, following the Bethesda buyout.

Jeremy Hinton, the Xbox Business Lead for Asia, was asked about Microsoft potentially buying Japanese studios and told Bloomberg that, while possible, the company has no announcements at this time.

Microsoft has been in discussions to bring more Japanese games to the Xbox console though, with the likes of Yakuza: Like A Dragon and Scarlet Nexus already confirmed for the Xbox Series X/S (both are coming to PlayStation 5 too but were announced for Microsoft’s console first).

Koei Tecmo’s president, Hisashi Koinuma, has also said he’ll consider releasing more games for the Xbox if Microsoft continues to show interest in Japan.

However, game consultant Serkan Toto believes that the new Xbox is on track to do no better than its predecessor, the Xbox One, in Japan.

‘Microsoft will continue to have a hard time in Japan, and I don’t see any reason why the next Xbox should do better in Japan than the previous models.

‘All signs point that for the next years, Nintendo will stay king in Japan, and I really don’t understand why Microsoft is still so obsessed with Japan.’

It’s been noted that Sony appears to be taking the opposite approach, shifting its priorities towards the West.

According to anonymous employees, this is because of Sony’s disappointment in the PlayStation 4’s sales in Japan, having sold less than 10 million units.

As further proof of this, Sony’s PlayStation 5 promo events took place at 5am Tokyo time and lacked Japanese translation during certain parts.

The PlayStation’s control scheme has also undergone a significant change in Japan. Whereas Japanese players have always used the circle button to confirm and the cross button to cancel, the PlayStation 5’s control scheme has been standardised worldwide, meaning Japanese players will need to get used to the Western way of using cross to confirm and circle to cancel.

The Xbox Series X/S will release worldwide on November 10. The PlayStation 5 will release in the UK on November 19.

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